Kings center Anze Kopitar is congratulated after scoring against the Colorado… (Danny Moloshok / Associated…)
On the first day of the rest of the Kings' season, club executives decided against summoning a replacement for center Anze Kopitar, who broke his right ankle Saturday and is expected to be out at least six weeks.
Coach Terry Murray said Sunday he conferred with General Manager Dean Lombardi and assistant GM Ron Hextall and they resolved to "hold the course" and give expanded roles to players like fourth-line center Trevor Lewis.
Kopitar was injured during the second period of the Kings' 4-1 victory over Colorado. Lewis played well between Ryan Smyth and Dustin Brown, setting up one goal and scoring another.
"It's an opportunity especially for a player like Lewis who's going to have more ice time and a more responsible situation," Murray said Sunday. "It's going to be good for him, a good challenge, and I hope he responds."
Anze Kopitar breaks ankle in Kings' 4-1 win over Avalanche
Another factor is the Kings' Manchester (N.H.) affiliate has been thinned by injuries. Center Andrei Loktionov had season-ending shoulder surgery and center/winger Marc-Andre Cliche has an injured thumb. "We might not fit the description of the role any better than with what we have with our roster right now," Murray said.
Top prospect Brayden Schenn isn't available to the Kings now. The agreement between the NHL and Canadian junior leagues stipulates Schenn can't be recalled until the season ends for his junior team, and his Saskatoon Blades are expected to go far in the playoffs.
The only other way he could be recalled is in a third forward emergency, meaning two Kings forwards would have to be hurt and the Kings would first have to recall two forwards on an emergency basis from the minors. Anything below 12 healthy forwards is defined as an emergency situation; the Kings have 12 now. Oscar Moller's emergency recall became a regular recall when Kyle Clifford returned to the lineup Thursday. Teams can make four non-emergency recalls between the trade deadline and the end of the season for the team whose player they promote.
Corey Perry leads Ducks to 2-1 victory over Blackhawks
The Kings didn't practice Sunday so Murray didn't get to reconfigure his lines without Kopitar, who leads the team with 75 points. Murray said he would probably leave Michal Handzus between Dustin Penner and Moller, and have Brad Richardson center the fourth line for Clifford and Kevin Westgarth. Jarret Stoll would center for Alexei Ponikarovsky and Wayne Simmonds.
Murray said he considered becoming more conservative but will stick with the current structure. "You might tweak it as you move through it and see how things go over the next couple of games," he said, "but we'll stay with what we've been doing and just push the importance of every play and the consistency of performance."