Los Angeles Hockey: Scott Parse

Kings: 5 things to know about Dustin Brown

May, 24, 2012
Name: Dustin Brown

Position: left wing

Height/Weight: 6 feet, 210

Seasons with the Kings: 8

What’s his role? Brown is a game changer, whether it’s delivering a clutch goal at the most opportune time, or leaving an opposing player gasping for air after an open-ice hit. The team captain is like a swarm of mosquitoes on a camping trip, getting under an opponent’s skin until they finally whack him. Probably no surprise, he drew the most penalties in the league during the regular season. But that’s just part of what makes Brown so valuable to the Kings. He averaged 26 goals the last five seasons, hitting the net from a variety of spots on the ice and in an assortment of ways. If the Kings could clone him, they probably would.

Anne-Marie Sorvin/US PresswireDustin Brown
What has he done lately? Teams that march this far into the Stanley Cup playoffs need their top players to perform at their best and Brown has led the way like a famous general. His seven goals and 16 points are second best in the league this postseason. From his two shorthanded goals in Game 2 of the opening-round series against the Vancouver Canucks, to the thunderous hits that decompressed Vancouver forward Henrik Sedin and Phoenix defenseman Michal Rozsival, Brown seems to be in the middle of every game-changing moment.

Where will you find him on the ice? Brown’s laundry list of accomplishments this spring is more remarkable considering he’s playing out of position. Brown shoots the puck right-handed, making him a natural right wing. But season-ending injuries to Scott Parse and Simon Gagne, along with ineffectiveness by Dustin Penner during the regular season, forced coach Darryl Sutter to move Brown to the left side. Since Brown's main objective is to power his way to the front of the net, his shooting side becomes less of a factor the closer he gets. Throw in his chemistry with longtime teammate Anze Kopitar and Brown tends to be more of a freelancer anyway.

What does he do best? What makes Brown so frustrating to play against is his temperament. He’ll rattle the glass with a big hit then skate away as the opponent tries to engage him in a verbal battle. He doesn’t just get other players frustrated and off their games, he does it to entire teams. Never was that more apparent than when the Kings clinched their trip to the Stanley Cup finals. He laid out Rozsival with a side-on-side hit in overtime of Game 5, sending Rozsival crumbling to the ice. The Coyotes were enraged that a penalty wasn’t called and, before they could settle their emotions down, the Kings scored 12 seconds later to end the series.

A comparable athlete: Without a doubt, Brown is the Blake Griffin of the NHL, only he’s probably better at the free-throw line. Brown carries the team’s attitude on his chest and will bump with anyone. He likes contact and opponent’s like to make contact with him, often giving a little more back out of pure frustration. In the end, they both know how to tickle the twine, and like to use brute force to get there.

Kings: Outlook not promising for injured left wings

April, 20, 2012
EL SEGUNDO—While the Kings wait to find out what time the puck will drop Sunday for Game 5 of their Western Conference quarterfinal against the Canucks in Vancouver, there has been some clarity on the status of three injured left wings.

Kyle Clifford did not participate in Friday’s practice at Toyota Sports Center, nor did he skate on his own afterward. Clifford was injured in Game 1 when his head slammed into the glass following a hit by Vancouver winger Byron Bitz.

Clifford wobbled off the ice and hasn’t played since. Bitz was suspended for Games 2 and 3, both won by the Kings to take a 3-0 series lead, and was a healthy scratch in Game 4, won by the Canucks on Wednesday at Staples Center to push the series to a fifth game.

Clifford’s red non-contact jersey hung above his locker Friday, indicating there was a plan for him to skate at some point, but Kings coach Darryl Sutter said Clifford did not have a setback in his recovery, rather continues to follow “protocol.”

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Kings: Holding off the Calgary stampede

February, 18, 2012
Kings (27-20-11, 65 points) vs. Calgary Flames (27-22-9, 63 points) at Staples Center, 7 p.m.

Five storylines to track:

1. Tick, tick, tick – That sound you hear is the Kings running out of time and excuses. Sure, they played hard Thursday night against the visiting Phoenix Coyotes, fired up another sold-out crowd with a barrage of fisticuffs in the first period and even managed to create some Grade A scoring chances along the way. But the result was similar to so many others this season, a 1-0 loss that left the Kings clinging to the final playoff spot by two points. If they can’t find a way to average three goals a game down the stretch, it's doubtful they'll hold off the pack. And guess which team is currently leading the charge? The Calgary Flames.

LACGY2. What’s the problem? – By now, it’s pretty much out there that Kings have the worst offense in the NHL. How did they get here? One possibility could be the departure of Wayne Simmonds, Ryan Smyth, Michal Handzus and Alexei Ponikarovsky in the offseason. Especially if you consider Mike Richards, Simon Gagne, Dustin Penner and Scott Parse were counted on to fill the voids in their first full seasons with the Kings. Instead, Gagne and Parse are out with long-term injuries, and Penner has been so ineffective he'll likely be a healthy scratch for the fourth straight game.

3. Added concerns – If their precarious hold on the final playoff spot isn’t enough to draw concern, the thought of playing for another team by the end of the month should also weigh on the players’ minds. With some noticeable holes to address on the offensive end, it’s looking like the Kings will make a trade in the coming days, and they might be willing to dangle just about anybody to bring in a player who can put the puck in the net. Though there’s probably little preventing such a move from happening at this point, maybe an offensive outburst against Calgary might delay the search for a game or two.

4. Roster move – The Kings put Trent Hunter on waivers Friday, giving the rest of the league 24 hours to claim the 31-year-old right wing before he becomes eligible to be sent to the AHL. Hunter hasn't played in the minors since 2003. The move was made to clear a roster spot for Jarret Stoll, who’s eligible to come off injured reserve after missing the last three games with a minor hip injury. it's also a good sign for rookie forwards Dwight King and Jordan Nolan, allowing one or both to stick around a few more games while management tries to figure out what to do with their $4.25-million healthy scratch, Mr. Penner.

5. Brother vs. brother Part III – For the third time since he was hired in December, Kings coach Darryl Sutter will be matched against his younger brother, Brent. They split the first two meetings last month, although that seems like a decade ago considering how the stakes have become so much higher lately. The Flames escaped with a 2-1 shootout victory the last time they visited Staples Center on Jan. 19. We'll go on a limb and predict a similar low-scoring game.

Kings/Ducks: These teams have plenty in common

December, 22, 2011

Kings (15-14-4, 34 points) vs. Ducks (9-19-5, 23 points) at Staples Center, 7 p.m.

Five storylines to track:

1. Sound familiar? – Wasn’t it just three weeks ago that the Ducks were introducing a new coach? Now it’s the Kings turn to cross their fingers and hope a midseason coaching change will help the players shoot the puck better. Darryl Sutter has been handed the task of unlocking an offense that ranks last in the league in scoring. His first triumph would be getting the Kings to score at least three goals in a game. They haven’t lit the lamp more than twice in the last 12. Bruce Boudreau hasn’t had any luck turning the tide in Anaheim. Since he took over for Randy Carlyle following a win against Montreal on Nov. 20, the Ducks have lost seven of nine.

2. Richards ready – The best news out of practice Wednesday was the confirmation that Kings center Mike Richards has been cleared to play. He missed the last eight games with a concussion suffered against Florida. Richards said he’s feeling fine and ready to play against the Ducks, barring any unforeseen setbacks. Despite missing the last three weeks, Richards still leads the Kings with 11 goals. That’s not a good sign. Since he’s the straw the stirs the power play, it’s no surprise the unit has gone into silent mode since his absence. And when he scores at least a point this season, the Kings are 12-2-2.

3. Blurring the lines – Sutter has already made some interesting moves with his forward lines. He moved speedy wing Brad Richardson up to the top group with Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown, and had Richards centering the second line with Simon Gagne and Trevor Lewis. It was just in the last month that Richardson was a healthy scratch in eight of nine games and Lewis in nine of 10. With the return of Richards on the horizon, the Kings will need to make a roster move after Christmas. Therefore, the promotions of Richardson and Lewis could also be viewed as final auditions.

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Kings: No more excuses vs. Ducks

November, 16, 2011
Kings (8-6-3, 19 points) vs. Ducks (6-8-3, 15 points) at Staples Center, 7:30 p.m.

Five storylines to track:

1. European post-vacation – Both teams seemed to pay the price for their season-opening trips to Europe. They caught fire once they crossed back over the Atlantic but the adrenaline seemed to wear off overnight and their offenses have spiraled in the last eight to 12 games. The Kings showed signs of getting off the mat in a 5-2 victory Saturday night against visiting Minnesota, the best defensive team in the league. Anaheim looked good for a period Friday night against visiting Vancouver before holding on to win, 4-3, its only victory in the last eight games.

2. Russian relief – The Kings have placed three players on injured reserve in the last week and filled two of those roster spots with forward Andrei Loktionov and defenseman Slava Voynov, both 21-year-old Russians who have plenty of skill but not a lot of NHL experience. Loktionov, a natural center who will play left wing on the second line with Mike Richards and Dustin Brown, has played 19 career games over the previous two seasons. Voynov made his NHL debut earlier this season and looked like a seasoned pro while scoring three points in five games, helping the Kings go 4-1 in that span.

3. Fourth-line repeat – Kings coach Terry Murray liked what he saw from the fourth line Saturday night against the Wild and said he’ll let it ride against the Ducks. Colin Fraser, who was added to the roster last week when Scott Parse went down with a lower-body injury, scored a goal in his second game with the club and seemed to click with Trevor Lewis and Ethan Moreau, both of whom earned assists on the play. Secondary scoring has been the Achilles heel for both teams, and anything they can get from a checking line is a huge lift.

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Kings: Colin Fraser to debut vs. Canucks

November, 10, 2011
Kings (7-5-3, 17 points) vs. Vancouver Canucks (7-7-1, 15 points) at Staples Center, 7:30 p.m.

Five storylines to track:

1. Welcome mat – Makings his debut for the Kings will be forward Colin Fraser, who hasn't played in nearly eight months after undergoing ankle surgery. Fraser was activated from injured reserve earlier Thursday, replacing Scott Parse (lower-body injury) on the active roster. The Kings acquired Fraser from Edmonton over the summer in exchange for Ryan Smyth, who asked to be traded back to the Oilers, the team he broke into the league with. Don’t expect Fraser to light up the score sheet, as he’ll occupy a fourth-line role, but he could bring some needed energy to the lineup.

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Kings: Rollercoaster ride veers to San Jose

November, 6, 2011
Kings (6-4-3, 15 points) vs. San Jose Sharks (7-4-1, 15 points) at HP Pavilion, 7:30 p.m.

Five storylines to track:

1. Colossus II: Last season was marked by extreme inconsistency in the win/loss column. The Kings started a franchise-record 12-3-0, then lost seven of their next eight. They went through another hot-and-cold period in December and into mid-January. The Kings appear to be falling into a similar pattern. They began this season 5-1-1 but have fallen to 1-3-2 in their last six games, losing their fourth straight game Saturday night against visiting Pittsburgh. They're aware of the early similarities to last season, maybe even too much so. A victory against the Sharks would surely ease their minds and get them rolling in the right direction again.

2. Scoreless in L.A.: What do Dustin Penner, Drew Doughty, Alec Martinez, Brad Richardson and Trevor Lewis have in common? Besides their membership with the Kings, they’ve each gone without a goal this season. That’s a combined 56 games without hitting the back of the net. Matt Greene, Willie Mitchell, even Ethan Moreau can be excused for not scoring a goal yet this season, but the five players listed above need to find a way to produce on offense if the Kings have a hope of pulling out of their scoring slump sooner rather than later.

3. Subtle changes: Kings coach Terry Murray adjusted the scoring lines during practice Sunday, moving Penner up to the second line at left wing, dropping Scott Parse back to the third line on the right side and moving Kyle Clifford up to the third line on the left side. All three players have been under the gun at one time or another this season, and Murray indicated after practice Sunday his main objective for the changes was getting Penner more involved offensively. He has not scored a regular-season goal in the last 24 games. Parse, meanwhile, hasn't proved he can consistently produce with less-skilled players on his line, so this could represent a setback for him.

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Kings: Hoping to put a plug in surging Oilers

November, 2, 2011
Ryan SmythNoah Graham/NHLI/Getty ImagesRyan Smyth, who played for the Kings the previous two seasons, returns to Staples Center with the Oilers on Thursday.
Kings (6-3-2, 14 points) vs. Edmonton Oilers (7-2-2, 16 points) at Staples Center, 7:30 p.m.

Five storylines to track:

1. Squeaky new – It’s not even close. By a wide margin, the Oilers have fielded the worst product in the NHL the last two seasons, sputtering to a league-low 62 points each year. Beneath the surface, however, management has been steadfastly rebuilding the organization. The seeds are finally beginning to bear fruit. Heading into Thursday’s schedule, the Oilers are tied for the most points in the Western Conference, own the best goal differential (+7) and have the longest current winning streak in the league at five games.

2. Smitty returns – A key reason for Edmonton’s success has been the addition of left wing Ryan Smyth, who spent the last two seasons playing in Los Angeles. He was third on the Kings last year with 23 goals and provided veteran leadership for a young team trying to take the next step. For family reasons, Smyth asked to be traded back to Edmonton, where he spent the first 11 seasons of his career. The Kings complied, even though they received very little value in return. It's no surprise Smyth has brought along his best attributes, tying for the team lead with five goals and contributing five assists, all the while sharing his years of experience with the younger crop of players.

3. Speaking of trades – Some interesting news came out of Edmonton earlier Wednesday. Colten Teubert, a defenseman who the Kings traded to Edmonton in February in the deal that brought over Dustin Penner, was called up from the American Hockey League and could make his NHL debut at Staples Center. Teubert was a first-round draft pick of the Kings in 2008, but became expendable due to the organization’s depth along the blue line. Penner hasn’t exactly lived up to expectations in L.A., however, scoring just three goals in 38 games.

4. Doughty’s debut – Another player who hasn’t been spotted around Staples Center since last season is Kings defenseman Drew Doughty. He missed the home preseason games while negotiating a new contract, then was hurt in the final game of a four-game road trip to start the season. He missed the three games played at Staples Center last month but returned for the middle game of a three-game road trip last week. Doughty has struggled to make contributions thus far, and coach Terry Murray said Tuesday that the team’s highest-paid player appears to be trying too hard to make an impact. How the Kings faithful greet Doughty after his preseason absence should be interesting to monitor as well.

5. Full compliment – For only the second time this season, the Kings are expected to have left wings Simon Gagne, Scott Parse and Penner in the same game. Gagne is a two-time 40-goal scorer and Penner a four-time 20-goal scorer. Kings general manager Dean Lombardi also says he believes Parse is one of the top three most skilled offensive players on the team, when he's healthy. If the three can find a way to stay out of the trainer's room, they should form a strong triple layer with centers Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards and Jarret Stoll.

Kings: Measurable depth at left wing

November, 1, 2011
EL SEGUNDO -- Depth at center was a known commodity heading into the season.

Depth on the left side? Much more of a mystery.

The Kings seemed destined to drop down a level after accommodating Ryan Smyth's offseason request to be traded back to Edmonton. Smyth was, by far, the team's most potent scorer on the left side last season.

The Kings tried to compensate by signing the aging and injury-prone Simon Gagne, then crossed their fingers and hoped for better returns from Dustin Penner and Scott Parse.

Though the process has been far from meticulous -- a combination of injuries and ineffectiveness has limited Gagne, Parse and Penner to just one game together this season -- the pieces seem to be coming together heading into a busy stretch of home games beginning Thursday against Smyth and the Oilers at Staples Center.

Gagne missed the last two games because of a mid-body injury, but said Tuesday following practice that he’s ready to pick up where he left off, totaling three goals and four assists while playing the first nine games on the top line with center Anze Kopitar and right wing Justin Williams.

“I should be good to go Thursday,” said Gagne, a two-time 40-goal scorer.

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Kings: Avs heavily out-shot but still win, 3-2

October, 30, 2011
Scott ParseMichael Martin/NHLI via Getty ImagesScott Parse scored one of the Kings' two goals Sunday, but it wasn't enough in Colorado.
Colorado Avalanche 3, Kings 2

Eight keys to the game:

THE FACTS: The Kings out-shot the Avalanche, 32-16, but gave up a short-handed goal and another on a power play courtesy of a bad bounce. They eventually gave up the game-winner with just over 18 minutes remaining at Pepsi Center in Denver, ending a five-game winning streak against Colorado.

THE STAT: The Kings allowed the fewest shots on goal since Phoenix totaled 15 in 2-0 victory at Staples Center in January. When the Kings out-shoot their opponent this season, they’re 1-3-1.

TURNING POINT: With the score tied, 2-2, early in the third period, the Kings committed a turnover in the neutral zone and Matt Duchene recovered the puck. He skated right at Kings defenseman Drew Doughty as he entered the offensive zone, shot the puck through Doughty’s legs and beat goalie Jonathan Quick up high for a 3-2 lead.

HOT: The Kings scored twice on the power play to improve to nine for 38 this season (23.6 percent), moving them into the top 10 in the league in that category.

NOT: Justin Williams started the season on fire, scoring seven points in the first five games, but he went without a point for the fifth straight game against Colorado. Williams hadn’t gone five consecutive games without a point since March 2010.

GOOD MOVE: Scott Parse continues to pick up the slack for Simon Gagne, who missed his second consecutive game because of a mid-body injury. Parse scored the first goal for the Kings, whacking the puck out of the air with a swing of his stick. Parse had two goals on the three-game trip and six points in his last nine regular-season games dating to last season.

BAD MOVE: Less than a week after mysteriously choosing to sit Quick during his three-game shutout streak and with plenty of rest between games, Kings coach Terry Murray opted to play Quick in back-to-back road games this weekend. Murray didn’t get the result he hoped for when backup Jonathan Bernier lost to the Devils last week, and Quick wasn’t exactly on top of his game on the trip, giving up nine goals in three games. He was lucky the Avalanche didn’t score more, as twice the puck got behind him during the third period, but Colorado couldn’t capitalize.

NOTABLE: The Avalanche won on their home ice for the first time since March 24 … The Kings scored both their power-play goals after Dustin Penner drew a minor penalty … The Avalanche, who came in with the No. 1 power-play unit in the NHL, took a 2-1 lead with the man advantage when the puck took a bad bounce while skidding along the dasher boards. Quick had gone behind the net to trap the puck, but it kicked off the boards and went right in front of the net, where Milan Hejduk scored before Quick could get back into position.

UP NEXT: Thursday vs. the Edmonton Oilers at Staples Center, 7:30 p.m.

Shutout streaks ends but Kings win, 5-3

October, 27, 2011
Jonathan QuickRonald Martinez/Getty ImagesJonathan Quick's shutout streak ended at 202 minutes 11 seconds, but the Kings beat the Stars.
Kings 5, Dallas Stars 3

Eight keys to the game:

THE FACTS: One streak ended Thursday night but another began. The Kings rebounded from a poor effort two days earlier against visiting New Jersey and won at American Airlines Center in Dallas, running their record against the Stars to 17-2-2 since Jan. 12, 2008.

THE STAT: Kings goalie Jonathan Quick gave up his first goal in four games, ending his franchise-record shutout streak at 202 minutes 11 seconds. Quick hadn’t given up an even-strength goal in 16-plus periods before Michael Ryder scored seven seconds after Scott Parse left the penalty box in the third period to cut the deficit to 3-2. The Stars added another even-strength goal later in the third to tie the score, 3-3, but Kings rookie defenseman Slava Voynov scored his second goal of the game with 6:52 remaining and that held up as the game winner.

TURNING POINT: The Kings scored three unanswered goals in the second period to take a 3-1 lead. After tying the score, 1-1, on a goal by Justin Williams in the opening minutes of the period, Parse intercepted a pass from Mike Ribeiro in the offensive zone. The puck made its way to Dustin Brown, who shot wide but the loose puck was scooped in by Mike Richards who passed back to Parse for the tap in. Parse, who had been a healthy scratch the last six games and seemed to holding onto his roster spot by a thread, also drew a penalty to set up the third goal by the Kings.

HOT: Heading into the game, it was believed Voynov was making his last NHL appearance for a while, as Drew Doughty is ready to return from injury. Voynov helped his cause in a big way, scoring two goals and contributing an assist for his first NHL points. Voynov’s slap shot early in the first period was stopped by Dallas goalkeeper Kari Lehtonen but the rebound came out to Williams who tucked it back in the net. Voynov scored the third goal, taking a pass from Brown as he crashed the net on a power play and shooting it past Lehtonen. He later buried a slap shot from the top of the right faceoff circle for the winner.

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Kings: Season Preview (Act II)

October, 1, 2011
Each day heading into their season openers Oct. 7 in Europe, ESPNLosAngeles will take a closer look at the Kings and Ducks. Where are their strengths, their weaknesses? Which star player will continue to shine, and which might struggle to maintain their previous levels? We put the Kings back under the microscope today and attempt to answer a few key questions regarding their forwards.

The forward with the most to prove this season? If there was ever motivation for a forward to pile up the points, Dustin Penner has a few good reasons. Outside of his first two weeks with the Kings, the 6-foot-4, 242-pound left wing wasn’t impressive after he was dealt to L.A. at the trade deadline in late February. He registered two goals and four points in 19 games and one point and an assist in the six-game playoff loss to San Jose. Penner, who turned 29 this week, made a concentrated effort in the offseason to get himself in better shape, reporting to camp at 242 pounds, about 18 less than when he was traded to the Kings. If pride isn’t enough to push him back to the level that saw him score 32 goals and register 63 points two seasons ago, then his wallet might. Penner is in a contract year and his totals this season will go a long way toward determining what type of price tag he'll wear in the offseason. Throw in the fact that he’s penciled in to play on the top line with one of the league’s top playmakers in Anze Kopitar, and Penner has every reason to take a big step forward this season.

The forward with the least to prove? Kopitar has already answered what a lot of folks questioned heading into the season, whether his right ankle was fully healed after a season-ending injury last March. He announced he was fit at the start of training camp and went out and proved it on the ice, scoring four goals in the last two preseason games. The key for Kopitar this season is setting up his linemates for high-percentage scoring chances, namely Penner. With the skill around him this season, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t hit 30-plus goals and 50-plus assists.

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Kings: Injuries & inefficiency piling up

September, 26, 2011
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.”

Kings: Trent Hunter and Scott Parse under the microscope after going under the knife

September, 18, 2011
EL SEGUNDO — Of all the Kings who are rebounding from injuries last season, forwards Scott Parse and Trent Hunter are receiving the most attention during the early stages of training camp.

Parse, 27, underwent hip surgery last November, was rushed back into action after the Kings went down, 3-1, in the best-of-seven first-round playoff series against San Jose, but clearly lacked a jump in his step. He disappeared into the locker room midway through Game 6 and never returned.

“You could see last year he still had a hitch in his skate,” said Kings general manager Dean Lombardi.

When Parse is healthy, Lombardi said, he's one of the three most skilled offensive players on the team. In the five regular-season games in which he suited up last season, Parse contributed a goal and three assists.

Those flashes are why the Kings are so interested in his recovery. How he responds during the early part of training camp should help determine where he’ll fit in on a team that’s stacked with talented forwards.

“That’s what we have to find out,” said Kings coach Terry Murray. “Last year, I was hoping for a big year from him, on the offensive part of it. That’s clearly what he brings to us, a nice touch around the net. He’s very creative below the hash marks in the offensive zone.”

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Kings: New and improved up front

September, 15, 2011
Mike RichardsLen Redkoles/NHLI/Getty ImagesMike Richards was a captain with the Flyers and hopes to bring those qualities to the Kings.

Out with the old and in with the new.

As the Kings gather for their physicals and conditioning tests Friday at the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo, in advance of Saturday's opening day of training camp, they might need to wear name tags for the medical staff.

That’s because the organization made wide-ranging additions and subtractions to their forward positions during the offseason, adding speed, skill, leadership and much-needed playoff experience to the team’s core group of talent.

Even more impressive, they may have become younger in the process.

“We only have four guys over 30, which is kind of crazy because we’re considered a very good team,” said center Jarret Stoll, who will turn 30 in June.

The Kings traded away 35-year-old left wing Ryan Smyth, and watched center Michal Handzus, 34, and left wing Alexei Ponikarovsky, 31, leave via free agency.

They did lose some youth up front, as 23-year-old right wing Wayne Simmonds and 20-year-old blue-chip prospect Brayden Schenn were traded to Philadelphia, but the Kings should benefit from what the received in return, Mike Richards, a 26-year-old center who has averaged 28 goals and 70 points the last four regular seasons.

Just as valuable, he led the Flyers to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2010, a destination the Kings have reached just once, back in 1993.

“He knows what it takes,” said Kings center Anze Kopitar, 24, who has led the team in points the last four seasons.

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