Drewiske in, Ivanans out for Kings ... and NHL visits Staples Center to prepare for the 2010 draft
In addition to his planned switch from backup goaltender Erik Ersberg to No. 1 goalie Jonathan Quick tonight against Phoenix, Kings Coach Terry Murray took rugged winger Raitis Ivanans out of the lineup and reinstalled defenseman Davis Drewiske, who was a healthy scratch the last two games.
Murray cited several reasons, including concern that the Kings might experience an emotional letdown after their remarkable 5-4 overtime victory at San Jose on Wednesday -- and that the Coyotes' speedy forwards will give the Kings' defensemen all they can handle.
"It’s giving us a little bit of a safety net," Murray said. "With the back to back games, with what you’re talking about on the emotional side of the game, the speed coming at us, I just want to have that extra defenseman that can play if need be, if we make that decision. He’ll play." But it's a matter of what situations and how much.
Murray also said the Kings' inability to close out the Sharks on Wednesday persuaded him that another defenseman might enable them to clamp down when they have a lead.
"Another process that went into it for me was the two-goal lead we had last night. The next thing you know it’s a 4-4 game," he said. "There’s a couple of scenarios that we shouldn’t have given up as much as we did."
Murray also said he's concerned about protecting leads within games, even though the Kings entered Thursday's game against Phoenix with a record of 13-0-0 in games in which they led after two periods. Building a lead and holding it remains his goal.
"We have to learn. That’s really important, understand that we are still continuing to build on the win side of it but you can’t go to that card all the time," he said. "You’ve got to be able to shut down one-goal games on a pretty consistent basis in this league.
"You've got to know how to do that. That’s a big part of winning in pro sports, finding a way to get it done when it’s on the line."
Murray also said he skated with Ryan Smyth on Thursday morning and afterwards spoke to the injured winger about his return. Monday will mark four weeks since Smyth sustained an upper-body injury -- it's believed to be his ribs -- and Smyth has been skating for a while but hasn't been able to practice fully.
Murray said there's a possibility Smyth could return for the Kings' Canadian trip next week, which starts Monday in Vancouver.
"He brought that up," Murray said. "He asked me, 'If I’m cleared am I going to get in?'"
Um, they'll find room for him.
"Absolutely," Murray said, "I told him, 'I’ll make room for you tonight if you’re cleared.'"
Speaking of room, the NHL has sent a representative to Staples Center to scout out space in the building to build a stage and all the other necessary facilities for the entry draft, which will be held in the arena June 25-26.
More later at www.latimes.com/sports
-- Helene Elliott