Kings' morning skate: Scuderi expected to play; can't tell the left wings without a scorecard
Kings Coach Terry Murray made Saturday’s game-day skate an optional exercise, so about a dozen players took advantage of the ice time to prepare for Saturday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks at Staples Center.
Defenseman Rob Scuderi, banged up enough to sit on the bench for the last half of the final period of Wednesday’s 4-1 loss at Montreal, missed part of Friday’s practice and skipped Saturday’s optional session. However, Murray said he expected Scuderi to play Saturday night.
Murray said Scuderi felt “pretty good” Friday. “He wanted to stay off here this morning just to continue to get some maintenance and be ready to go tonight,” Murray said.
“Everybody will go in the warmup. I’ll put seven [defensemen] out there just to make sure that I’m covered, but I do expect him to play.”
The Kings put forward John Zeiler on recall waivers. Other teams have until 9 a.m. Pacific time Monday to claim him. If he clears, he could join the Kings that day.
But the scrappy Zeiler isn’t going to solve the scoring problems that led Murray to switch his lines around for Saturday’s game and leave intact only the Ryan Smyth-Jarret Stoll-Justin Williams trio.
“The coaches and I were talking about getting more results. Our goalscoring right now, we need to pick that part of it up,” Murray said after the morning skate. “I want to put my better players together. And I think with a young guy like King there -- this is no reflection on what he was doing, he was playing pretty well for us there -- but the experience of being able to play in those kinds of situations right now, to be able to find a way to finish, is what I’m looking for.”
Simmonds has had a quiet season offensively and has scored only four goals and seven points, including only one goal in his last 11 games. Last season, he had five goals and 11 points after 21 games.
He said he welcomed the change in linemates.
“What I’m going to try to do is just kind of make space for those guys. One of those guys gets a couple of seconds with the puck by himself, you know it’s in the net,” he said. “So that’s pretty much my job.”
Simmonds played with Kopitar on and off last season and doesn’t anticipate much of an adjustment.
“It’s more just give him time, give him the puck and let him do what he’s going to do because you know he’s going to make plays,” Simmonds said. “I think I’ve just got to get to open spaces and capitalize on the chances that I get.
“I think I’m struggling numbers-wise this year. Definitely not what I want. But I feel I’m still getting the chances, and as long as you’re getting chances, you’re going to start to bury them, and hopefully it comes sooner than later. Obviously, those guys will help that out too.”
Simmonds will be Kopitar’s seventh left wing this season, following Smyth, Scott Parse, Andrei Loktionov, Richardson, King and Handzus. Only Handzus was a mid-game change, as the others started games on Kopitar’s left.
“But who’s counting, right?” Kopitar said. “Lucky number seven I hope. We’ll see.”
He also said he and Brown had talked about having Brown on the off wing.
“He said he feels pretty comfortable on the left side. He told me he played left wing on American national team for a little bit,” Kopitar said. “And I’ve had him on the left wing too, and I think he’s really effective coming down his off wing, having the puck on the inside instead of the outside, so I think obviously there are pluses and minuses to that.
“Coming out of our zone, he’s going to have to make a few plays on his backhand, but he’s the type of player that is capable of doing it, so I’m not too worried about that.”
We’ll have more later at www.latimes.com/sports.
-- Helene Elliott
Photo: Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi beats Dallas' Jamie Benn to the puck during a game last month. Credit: Harry How / Getty Images