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KING REPORT

Nothing Is Guaranteed for Murray

April 27, 2002|Jerry Crowe

By almost any definition but his own, King Coach Andy Murray guaranteed a victory over the Colorado Avalanche in today's game at Staples Center.

Before the Kings departed for Game 5 of the first-round Stanley Cup playoff series Thursday at Denver, Murray wrote on a grease board in the dressing room at the team's practice facility, "Win Thursday and we will be playing Game 7 Monday."

Sounds like a guarantee of victory in today's Game 6, right?

Murray said no.

"I don't use those terms," he said Friday, a day after the Kings had cut the Avalanche lead in the series to 3-2 with a 1-0 victory in Game 5. "In those exact terms, I didn't say that.

"I said I believe if you get to Game 6 it will go to [Game] 7, but I didn't use the word 'guarantee.' In this sport, unfortunately, there isn't any guarantee. If we could just guarantee that the other teams wouldn't play good, it would make my job a lot easier."

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The Kings will again be without some key players today. Winger Cliff Ronning is expected to return to the lineup, but defenseman Philippe Boucher won't play and winger Adam Deadmarsh is doubtful, Murray said.

"Somebody asked me if I felt we were short-handed now," the coach said. "I don't because the rules say you can dress 20 players, and we'll have 20 players in the lineup. So, we don't feel short-handed, and we don't feel sorry for ourselves because nobody else will."

There's no other way to look at it, captain Mattias Norstrom said.

"Otherwise, you're looking for a way out, an excuse," he said. "We have guys all year long that stepped into positions when we had injuries. Same last night. You take three guys out of our lineup who play a lot of minutes and still we battled Colorado as hard as we've done in any game in this series."

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Bryan Smolinski, on the Kings' approach to overtime Thursday night: "We just realized that it's in their minds, 'Well, here we go again. It's going to be a long battle.' You could just see it in their eyes. We were wearing on them." ... Avalanche Coach Bob Hartley, on the status of winger Milan Hejduk, who could return to the lineup any day: "He feels much better. We're going to wait and see. The medical staff is working with him every day." Hejduk, out since Feb. 28 because of an abdominal strain, reportedly skated hard Friday in practice.

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