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Purcell draws team's praise

KINGS REPORT

January 22, 2008|Dan Arritt | Times Staff Writer

Teddy Purcell stepped onto the ice for his first NHL shift last week and before the 22-year-old center for the Kings could get his bearings, he was leading a two-on-one break with veteran defenseman Rob Blake.

He slid the puck over to Blake, who promptly passed it back. The rest was history, almost.

"I kind of went in on the goalie and almost scored," Purcell said. "I hit the side of the net."

Such is how the first tour of duty went for Purcell, who was called up from the team's AHL affiliate in Manchester, N.H., on Jan. 14 to replace injured forward Brian Willsie, who could be ready to play Thursday.

Purcell later hit the crossbar in the 3-1 victory last Tuesday in Edmonton and hit the post three nights later in a 6-1 loss at Calgary.

"I had some unlucky breaks, but hopefully, if I keep getting the chances, one will go in," said Purcell, who was third in the AHL in scoring when he was called up and led all first-year players.

Kings Coach Marc Crawford sounded hopeful after Monday's practice that Purcell would get additional opportunities to display his skills.

"Obviously, those are decisions that are made above the coaching staff," Crawford said of Purcell's having an extended stay in Los Angeles. "We like what he's done so far and we think he's only going to get better, for sure."

Purcell primarily played on the same line as veterans Michael Handzus and Kyle Calder, adding more of an offensive dimension, Crawford said.

Purcell's teammates also paid him several compliments, including Blake, who was impressed by Purcell's size, the way he uses his hands and his ability to get to the net.

"You can see he's a gifted-type player," Blake said.

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Matt Moulson scored for the Kings during his NHL debut on Nov. 2, a day after his 24th birthday. On Monday, he was called up from Manchester for the third time this season.

Moulson, a former Cornell player, will fill in for forward Ladislav Nagy, who is doubtful through this weekend's All-Star break because of a neck injury, Crawford said. Moulson has appeared in 12 games this season, getting three goals in 18 shots and an assist.

Nagy injured his neck during Friday's loss to Calgary. He tried to skate during warmups before Saturday night's game in Vancouver but was unable to play. Nagy planned to see a doctor later Monday to determine the extent of the injury.

The Kings are getting healthier on defense. Kevin Dallman is ready to resume playing full time after breaking his right foot Dec. 22 in Nashville. Dallman returned to the ice against Vancouver but only to serve a teammate's minor penalty.

"He had the world record for the shortest amount of ice time," Crawford said. "Nagy, we thought, was fine and he came up lame in the warmup . . . we hadn't planned on Dallman being back, and he was basically used as a body for that game."

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Michael Cammalleri continues to participate in non-contact drills. Cammalleri, who was put on injured reserve last week, bruised his ribs Dec. 22 against Nashville, the same game that Dallman broke his foot.

Cammalleri's recovery has been much slower, however. Trainers told Crawford on Monday that it's common for a player to see little improvement after five or six weeks with such an injury.

"It's tedious and there hasn't been a lot of visible improvement," Crawford said.

TONIGHT

vs. Red Wings, 7:30, FSN West

Site -- Staples Center.

Radio -- 1150.

Records -- Kings 19-28-2, Red Wings 35-10-4.

Record vs. Red Wings -- 0-2.

Update -- Most of the Red Wings have their fathers accompanying them on the three-game trip as part of a team-sponsored event.

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dan.arritt@latimes.com

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