Terry Murray: Kings will miss Wayne Simmonds
But now Simmonds is hurt, too, having sustained a lower-body injury that Coach Terry Murray said was hockey-related but wouldn't be specific. Simmonds was to see the team doctor Saturday night, while the Kings faced the Dallas Stars at Staples Center, and Smyth -- out since Nov. 16 -- was also to be examined for a possible return next week.
Simmonds had nine goals, 20 points and a team-leading +13 plus/minus rating. He had four goals and nine points in his last nine games, supplying not only timely goals but smart passing and alert defensive play.
"He’s played very well. I go back to the end of the season last year, 10, 12 games. He really started to step up and take more of a role in this hockey club and just continuing to build on it this year," Murray said.
"Gonna miss him. He’s been very good with his energy, his gritty play and also playmaking ability."
Murray said he hadn't spoken to General Manager Dean Lombardi about calling anyone up from Manchester of the American Hockey League, but that's likely to happen before the team departs Sunday for a trip to Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary. The only healthy spare player Saturday night was defenseman Davis Drewiske.
Being so short up front -- and approaching the seventh game of a grueling stretch of 10 games in 17 days in six cities -- Murray was hoping that his team might be able to get a lead over the Stars and hold it without having to resort to overtime or a shootout. Four of the Kings' previous seven games went beyond 60 minutes.
"That would be very good," he said of the prospect of avoiding overtime or a shotoout. "I watched their game last ngiht. They’re playing well. Dallas played very well. Strong. They’ve got four lines. They’ve got a good team over there right now.
"We’re going to have to come with — I keep saying this — we’ve got to play a good checking game. We’ve got to play well without the puck tonight, with the shortage of some guys, key players. If we can get the lead and execute our system better than what we did against Phoenix ... I really felt we were breaking down in too many areas and allowing a lot of speed to come at us. And at the end of the day you feel fortunate you get out of the game with a win. You’ve got to trust your system more than what we showed in the game against Phoenix."
More later at www.latimes.com/sports
-- Helene Elliott
Photo: Kings right wing Wayne Simmonds battles Chicago defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson for a loose puck during a game last month. Credit: Charles Rex Arbogast / Associated Press