Kings' Doughty out Saturday, new target is next Thursday.
Prized defenseman Drew Doughty, who has not played since suffering a concussion Oct. 20, was ruled out of the Kings' game against the New Jersey Devils Saturday at Staples Center because skipping it gives him more time to be sure of his fitness before the Kings' subsequent game, also at home, against Tampa Bay next Thursday.
The Kings had initially hoped the Norris trophy runnerup would be able to return tonight in Dallas against the Stars. However, General Manager Dean Lombardi said Doughty felt some concussion symptoms at least twice while skating in Los Angeles and his return was pushed back.
Coach Terry Murray said he, Lombardi and the coaching staff discussed a timetable for Doughty and determined that keeping the 20-year-old defenseman out of Saturday’s game would be their best course.
“Are we doing the right thing by just saying, 'Look, take one more game off?' " Murray said. "It gives us like five days of practice and just get through it and get ready for the following game.
"And I agree. We all agreed that that's the right thing to do."
Doughty was injured when he and Carolina's Erik Cole accidentally collided. No penalty was called on the play and no supplementary discipline was imposed because the contact was deemed incidental and not a deliberate hit.
Murray made one change on defense for the Kings’ game tonight, taking defenseman Peter Harrold out and replacing him with Jake Muzzin. Murray said his decision had nothing to do with the late third-period penalty Harrold took during the Kings' 3-1 loss to the Blackhawks at Chicago on Wednesday.
"We talk about it pretty often with the power play — we want to get shots from the blue line. We seem to be just passing up too many of those opportunities," Murray said. "Again, late in the game [Wednesday] night in that critical power play when it's a one-goal game, we were looking to pass it around too much.
"We feel that Muzzin's got a shot mentality. He's got a good shot and we're hoping that we can take advantage of it. Peter played well. It's just the change for that reason."
Murray also took out forwards Andrei Loktionov and Trevor Lewis and replaced them with enforcer Kevin Westgarth and rookie Brayden Schenn.
“We need Westgarth's role and Schenn, I think again, it's going to be a heavier game. There's going to be a lot more board play and battles," Murray said. "He's been out a couple games watching. There's been a lot of video review with him. He's hungry to get back in and I want to see how he responds."
Murray also said that although he believes goaltender Jonathan Bernier should have held onto the puck on the play that led to Chicago’s second goal — a short rebound by Viktor Stalberg — he was otherwise pleased with Bernier's game. He said rebound control is one of Bernier's strengths and he simply wanted to see Bernier make a play or freeze the puck for a faceoff in that instance.
But Murray won't be burying Bernier like he buried Erik Ersberg last season.
"Actually I might go the other way and get him in sooner again," Murray said. "I thought his game was good. I'd just like to see him get his 'A' game on track and if we can get to that point we'll have two real good young goalies right on top of things and carry us a long way."
Murray added that Jonathan Quick will start on Saturday.
One last note: Dmitry Chesnokov of the Puckdaddy blog at Yahoo! Sports reported via Twitter that Ersberg had signed a one-year deal with Salavat Yulaev of Russia’s KHL.
More later at www.latimes.com/sports
--Helene Elliott, in Dallas