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A Season of Pain Could Result in Gain

March 12, 2004|Mike Bresnahan | Times Staff Writer

So the Kings press on, continuing a season that was supposed to be lost shortly after it started, right around the time of the realization that forwards Jason Allison and Adam Deadmarsh were injured much more seriously than originally thought.

With 13 games left, the Kings are in a four-team chase for the final three playoff spots in the Western Conference, placing increasing interest in out-of-town scoreboards and TV tickers that crawl across the bottom of the screen with score updates for the Calgary Flames, Nashville Predators and St. Louis Blues.

Along the way, records have fallen -- and will continue to fall -- officially and unofficially, en route to a season that could extend beyond April 4 for the Kings.

Officially, Coach Andy Murray set a team record Wednesday by coaching his 397th game with the Kings, breaking Bob Pulford's record for career games. Murray is one victory short of tying Pulford's team record of 178.

Unofficially, the Kings will break the record for man-games lost to injury Saturday against the San Jose Sharks. The Kings have lost 571 man-games and, with five players expected to be sidelined Saturday, will pass the 573 lost by the Boston Bruins in 1991-92. The NHL does not officially record man-games lost to injury.

Deadmarsh, out since December 2002 because of a concussion, and Allison, out since January 2003 because of whiplash, have each missed 68 games this season, accounting for about one-fourth of the man-games lost.

Right wing Ziggy Palffy has missed 29 games since sustaining a season-ending dislocated shoulder in January. Defenseman Aaron Miller missed 47 games because of a fractured wrist and a pinched nerve in his neck. Rookie forward Dustin Brown missed 41 games because of a severely sprained ankle.

Prospect Jared Aulin, traded Monday to the Washington Capitals, missed 65 games because of a dislocated shoulder.

The Kings lost 536 man-games last season to injuries and other ailments.

The Tampa Bay Lightning, which has the most points in the league, has lost 17 man-games this season.

"For two years we've had a run of injuries unlike any we've ever seen," King General Manager Dave Taylor said. "Prior to last year, I think 360 was our most. A chunk of it has been both Allison and Deadmarsh the last two years.

"No question, a lot of credit goes to the players that are earning points for us every night, and the coaching staff has done an excellent job."

The players, for their part, are unfazed by being short-staffed so often.

"We're not using man-games as an excuse," forward Sean Avery said. "That's for the trainers and management to sit around and talk about after the season. We're all a team whether you're injured or not, but for the 20 guys out there, we've got to suck it up and get out there and get things done."

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