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KING REPORT

The Process of Healing

October 23, 2003|Mike Bresnahan | Times Staff Writer

One by one, the injured are becoming sound, the fractures, bruises and sprains are healing, and the Kings are getting heartier as a whole.

Promising forward Michael Cammalleri skated with contact Wednesday for the first time since spraining a ligament in his left knee in an exhibition game, becoming the first of seven injured players to return to contact.

Cammalleri, the Kings' second-round selection in the 2001 draft, was having a solid training camp until he was sidelined after taking a hip check Sept. 21 against the San Jose Sharks.

Cammalleri is still about a week away from getting into game shape, Coach Andy Murray said, but his return to contact was welcomed.

"That was a quick heal," Murray said. "He got to walk through the gates today. He graduated."

Defensemen Aaron Miller, who has a broken wrist, and Mattias Norstrom, suffering from a bruised chest, are about a week away from returning.

The timetable for forwards Jason Allison, who has whiplash, and Adam Deadmarsh, who has a concussion, remains unknown.

"The feelings haven't subsided to the point where they feel 100%," Murray said. "With head injuries, unless they're 100%, they won't do contact."

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Left wing Alexander Frolov has two goals in the last three games, which could be enough to bump him back to the top scoring line for tonight's game against the Buffalo Sabres.

Frolov was demoted to the fourth line after a slow start, but he was reunited Wednesday in practice with Ziggy Palffy and Jozef Stumpel, a sneak peek at what might take place tonight.

"There's been a little more determination, a little more first-step quickness," Murray said. "I think he's just playing better, being more physical, stronger, skating better."

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The Kings' power play, a study in mediocrity last season, is clicking over the first six games.

The Kings have nine power-play goals, and their success rate (20.9%) was eighth-best in the league before Wednesday's games, a marked improvement over last season's 18th-best.

Palffy, who leads the NHL with 12 points, has nine assists on the power play. Luc Robitaille is tied for third in the league with three power-play goals.

"If we want to win in this league, that's what we've got to do, score on the power play," Robitaille said. "We're doing it now, but I think there's always room to improve. We're still getting to know how we're playing out there"

*

TONIGHT

vs. Buffalo, 7:30 PDT, Fox Sports Net

Site -- Staples Center.

Radio -- KDIS (1110).

Records -- Kings 4-2-0-0, Sabres 2-4-0-0.

Record vs. Sabres (2002-03) -- 1-0-0-0.

Update -- The Sabres have struggled out of the gate, failing to score in their first two games and losing to Vancouver, 6-1, on Monday. The Sabres are allowing 3.5 goals per game, most in the NHL. Buffalo right wing Miroslav Satan has three goals and an assist in six games.

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