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Pro Hockey | KING REPORT

Smolinski's Spot Secure Despite Slump

December 01, 2002|Helene Elliott

Although King center Bryan Smolinski has scored merely one goal in his last 10 games and two in his last 17, Coach Andy Murray hasn't even considered taking the veteran center off the first line or cutting his playing time.

"He's a good player in so many ways," Murray said. "We'd like to see more production, but I still think his game is good. Sometimes you get players who struggle and you say, 'What are they doing?' That's not the case with him.

"We rate our players, and Bryan has had very few average or below average [grades]. I wouldn't say he's always been exemplary, but he's usually been on the plus side."

Smolinski continues to kill penalties and play the power play, averaging 18 minutes 43 seconds' ice time per game in the Kings' first 23 games. In that span, he took a team-high 66 shots.

"I can't say it's a lack of chances. That's one thing I'd be worried about if that were the case," he said. "I'd say I could probably have seven or eight goals now, yeah. I couldn't find the net early. But I'm very happy with the way I'm playing.

"We all have to play well. We're missing some guys and we have to keep the team above water. It's 20 guys who do that, not just me or Ziggy [Palffy]."

*

Murray said forwards Adam Deadmarsh (concussion), Ian Laperriere (strained neck) and Jason Allison (knee) will skate today and defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky (back strain) on Tuesday.

-- Helene Elliott

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