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Kings coach gives Teddy Purcell his big chance

Murray says of placing winger on the top line with Kopitar and Williams: 'I need him to get going. I want to give him every opportunity to play well.'

November 25, 2009|Helene Elliott
  • Teddy Purcell, shown taking a shot in front of Martin Skoula of the Penguins, has been placed on the top line, with Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams, despite having played on the second, third and fourth lines without much success.
Teddy Purcell, shown taking a shot in front of Martin Skoula of the Penguins,… (Harry How / Getty Images )

Winger Teddy Purcell hasn't scored a goal since Game 3 of a season that's 24 games old. He hasn't had an assist in his last eight games and was a healthy scratch twice in the Kings' last five games.

So where did Kings Coach Terry Murray put him in practice Tuesday before the team departed for games Wednesday at Edmonton and Thursday at Vancouver?

On the top line, with Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams.

"I need him to get going. I want to give him every opportunity to play well," Murray said. "I think in the last couple games he has been trying to do more things. He has been handling the puck with more confidence. . . . I want to try and take advantage of that upside of the curve and hopefully it comes out here tomorrow."

Murray likes Purcell's hands and size -- 6 feet 2 and 198 pounds -- and has deployed him on the second power-play unit even though Purcell's production hasn't justified it. Purcell has played on the second, third and fourth lines without much success, so Murray hopes he will elevate his game playing beside Kopitar and Williams.

"I'm going to give him a couple games here on this top line, get him back on the power play," Murray said. "And also I need to have that conversation with him just that, 'Hey, it's time. I need you to give us some statistics here. Points. That's a big part of your game, is to create, score. This is a great opportunity.' "

Alexander Frolov, who had replaced injured Ryan Smyth on the top line, will flank newly promoted center Andrei Loktionov and Dustin Brown. Jarret Stoll, who would normally center that line, is questionable because of an undisclosed injury.

MichalHandzus will center the third line for Scott Parse and Wayne Simmonds. The fourth line figures to have Brad Richardson center for recent callup Brandon Segal and either Peter Harrold or Raitis Ivanans.

Loktionov, 19, was leading Manchester of the American Hockey League with six goals and 17 points in 20 games. With translation help from fellow Russian Frolov, Loktionov said General Manager Dean Lombardi didn't want him to do anything special in his NHL debut.

"He just said to keep playing well, keep playing same way and try to do the same way here," Loktionov said.

Murray called Loktionov "a pretty creative guy," and said Manchester Coach Mark Morris had called Loktionov his best player.

"He handles the puck, he sees the ice, moves it, so I'm looking for good offensive production," Murray said.Segal said Loktionov displays remarkable maturity. "It's amazing. He has unbelievable patience out there with the puck, great vision," Segal said. "He's done a great job in Manchester and he's going to be one hell of a hockey player in the future. He already is. He's 19. Makes me sick."

Murray said he knows little about Segal but is looking for energy from the 6-2, 209-pound right wing. "Get some hits and hopefully create some loose pucks and maybe something good can happen off of that," Murray said. "But just give us some minutes where we can back off the top three lines and buy us some safe shifts."

Lombardi said he intended to promote rugged winger Richard Clune but changed plans when Clune pulled a groin muscle last week. The same injury prevented Clune from making the Kings' opening-night roster.

Hickey faces surgery

Defenseman Thomas Hickey, who was the fourth overall pick in the 2007 draft and had a strong training camp, will soon undergo shoulder surgery that will idle him four months, Lombardi said.

The decision was difficult, Lombardi said.

"The more information we got, we're going to have a choice," Lombardi said. "He's going to have to get shut down for four months. So do we do it now and have him maybe for the playoffs -- and most importantly for the summer, because he's got to get stronger -- or do we have him play through it and the wear and tear on it is not good?

"If he was 34 or something you'd say play through it. But that socket there, the more you're asking for trouble longer term of it popping on him, so we just decided to shut him down."

Lombardi also said he's not surprised at Loktionov's smooth adjustment from junior hockey to the minor leagues. "He's grown a lot in the last year, I'm talking physically....but he's still a long way from being a man," Lombardi said.

Slap shots

Segal, formerly property of the Ducks, said the chance to play in his hometown of Vancouver is a dream come true. He won't mind buying tickets for his friends and family. "It's worth it," said Segal, who made his NHL debut last season with Tampa Bay and signed with the Kings as a free agent.

He said his role is simple. "I'm going to go out there and get the puck in deep and create havoc and take the puck to the net, make sure that I'm finishing the body." Defenseman Rob Scuderi, out three games because of a lower-body injury, practiced Tuesday but is questionable for the Edmonton game. "If I can deal with the discomfort and still feel that I'm a plus to our team, then I want to play," he said. "If they feel they would rather have another guy who's at 100% that's certainly their decision and I think we have the depth to do that."

Murray said Jonathan Quick will start in goal Wednesday but he hasn't decided whether to stay with Quick on Thursday or go to Erik Ersberg. "I've got to think about this a little bit. See how Quick plays, see how he's doing," Murray said. "I've got to keep Ersberg in the picture too."

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