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KING-DUCK REPORT

Roenick, Belanger Nearing Return

January 24, 2006|Lonnie White; Eric Stephens

After struggling through significant injuries to several key players for most of the season, the Kings are close to getting a few back.

Forwards Jeremy Roenick (finger) and Eric Belanger (groin), along with defenseman Aaron Miller (back), have been skating with teammates, which is a positive sign for Coach Andy Murray.

"Miller and Roenick are going to travel to San Jose, but they won't play," Murray said. Miller has not played since Dec. 23, and Roenick has been sidelined since Dec. 19.

"We're trying to get them around game-time atmosphere, so they can start getting their mental edge for games. That means, that they'll probably be ready to come back in a week to 10 days."

Still on the mend is forward Pavol Demitra -- the Kings' leading scorer -- who has not played since suffering a leg injury against Phoenix on Jan. 5. Murray said Demitra has not resumed skating.

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Forward Valeri Bure had successful surgery to repair a defect in his right hip on Monday and will miss the remainder of the season. Bure, 31, signed a one-year, $1.5-million contract with the Kings in August but was injured early and did not play a game this season.

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KINGS TONIGHT

at San Jose, 7:30

Site -- HP Pavilion.

Radio -- 710.

Records -- Kings 29-18-3, Sharks 22-17-6.

Record vs. Sharks -- 1-2-1.

Update -- San Jose defeated the Kings, 4-3, in overtime on Saturday, with the Sharks' Patrick Marleau scoring a power play goal 4:51 into the extra period. The Kings also lost at San Jose, 3-2, on Jan. 7.

-- Lonnie White

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Are the Mighty Ducks about to start their surge for the playoffs?

There could be the beginnings of a second-half uprising similar to the run in 2002-03 that carried them all the way to the Stanley Cup finals. Before Monday, the Ducks had picked up eight points out of a possible 10 in their previous five games.

The overtime losses to Washington and Boston might have been a point gained in each, but in Coach Randy Carlyle's view, they were also points lost.

"When you're in a non-playoff position, you're always talking about the points you miss because they're going to come back at some point," Carlyle said. "If you're not in a position to challenge, you think 'Oh, we should have had this, we should have had that.' "

As the Ducks sit five points behind eighth-place Edmonton, the statistic that can't be avoided is their 2-9 overtime record, which for Carlyle represents nine points that got away.

"The reality is you can't change that," Carlyle said. "All you can change is what's going forward, and that's what we're about."

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The Ducks' power-play unit has hovered in the bottom half of the league standings for most of the season, and it's something Carlyle would like to see changed.

"It has to become more of a weapon for us," he said.

The Ducks are ranked 24th in the league with a conversion rate of 15.5%, well below the league average of 17.7%. They were seven for 32 (21.8%) during a recent six-game stretch but were 0 for 7 Saturday against Florida.

-- Eric Stephens

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