Monday, September 26, 2011
Kings: Injuries & inefficiency piling up
By Dan Arritt
EL SEGUNDO -- Three games into the exhibition season and the Kings are already down two players because of injuries. Then there’s Scott Parse, whose vanishing skill is a growing pain for coach Terry Murray.
Murray announced after practice Monday that Kevin Westgarth and Jake Muzzin will not accompany the Kings on a trip to Kansas City for Tuesday’s exhibition game against the Pittsburgh Penguins and Wednesday’s game in Colorado against the Avalanche.
Westgarth, the team’s heavyweight enforcer, was wobbled by the right hand of Brian McGrattan of the Ducks during Sunday’s game at Staples Center. He had to be escorted off the ice after the second-period fight and did not return. He was later seen in the locker room after the game, sporting a gash on his left cheek.
Muzzin, a rookie defenseman, has been sidelined since taking a hard check into the glass from Mikkel Boedker of Phoenix on Wednesday night, leading to a five-minute boarding penalty and a 10-minute misconduct against Boedker. Muzzin also has a large scrape on his cheek.
“It’s a lot of precaution,” Murray said. “We want to do the right thing and give the players an opportunity to recover and be ready to go.”
Parse’s less-than-stellar play is a much bigger concern for Murray, who said he planned to meet with the young left wing later Monday to try and determine what’s wrong. Parse missed all but four regular season games last season with hip surgery and hasn’t appeared close to the skilled player the coaching staff envisioned heading into the preseason.
“I was trying to show him compassion, but after two games, I need more,' Murray said.
Parse is not scheduled to play against the Penguins, instead giving way to veteran Trent Hunter, who was brought in on a pro tryout and could be in line to claim Parse’s roster spot if he can show some effectiveness.
Parse is aware of the situation.
“I’ve got to skate better and play with more energy,” he said. “Don’t think, have fun and play.”
Parse isn’t the only forward who has looked out of sorts through two exhibition games at Staples Center and another in Phoenix. In the two losses on their home ice, the Kings have combined for two goals.
Murray said it appears the top two scoring lines are battling chemistry issues. Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams are coming back from injuries late last season, and Dustin Penner is about 18 pounds lighter than when he was traded from Edmonton in late February.
On the second line, Dustin Brown is still getting accustomed to playing alongside offseason acquisitions Mike Richards and Simon Gagne.
"We’re really out of sorts right now,” Murray said. “You just have to work through it.”