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Kings prospect Brayden Schenn progressing in Manchester

Schenn3 Center Brayden Schenn, loaned to Manchester of the American Hockey League last Wednesday for a two-week conditioning assignment, is doing well with the Monarchs and will remain with them for the full 14 days, Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi said Wednesday.

Schenn started the season with the Kings and played in their first four games, but his role was gradually reduced as Coach Terry Murray saw his shortcomings on defense. Overall he played in eight games but was scratched for five straight games before the NHL allowed the Kings to loan him to the Monarchs without affecting his contract status. If he plays 10 games, the first year of his contract will go into effect.

Lombardi said the word he has received is that Schenn is making strides on defense. Schenn has two assists in three games and a zero plus/minus rating.

“First off was getting him in skating shape,” Lombardi said. “That’s going to take care of itself by just playing. Then the other part of his game we were really looking at was defensively....

“He really struggled in his own end when you look at it, and that’s critical if you’re going to play here. He had a real tendency to just follow the puck versus understanding the time and space. There's three things a player's got to do: he's got to read it, and he's got to understand it and then he’s got to compete.”

When the Kings first saw Schenn, a scoring star in junior hockey, they realized he needed to learn how to play without the puck. That’s a common lesson for young players.

“In junior, if you’re playing 30 minutes a night all it is is ‘Go get the puck and pace yourself.’ You just always trend toward the puck,” Lombardi said. “They pace themselves and that’s another thing he had to learn. You’ve got to go hard for 40 seconds. In junior, [shifts] are a minute and a half and you have to pace yourself if you’re going to play 30, 35 minutes. That’s when we sent him down and told him, 'Just show me you can play defense.' Every report it’s the first thing I’ve asked and it’s been no problem.”

The Monarchs on Wednesday will start a stretch of four games in five nights, which should give Schenn plenty of time to work on his game. After the two-week period ends, “then we’ll make our call,” Lombardi said. “But at a minimum I feel like what we’re seeing is, ‘OK, we know he can do it.’”

A few more Kings-related notes: A group of Kings alumni will face the Ice Station Valencia all-stars Friday in a game that will benefit youth hockey in Valencia. Invitations to play were accepted by Rob Blake, Marty McSorley, Jim Fox, Daryl Evans, Ian Turnbull, Brad Norton, Mathieu Schneider and Jamie Storr.

The game is scheduled to start at 7:15 p.m. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for kids 12 and younger.

-- An outdoor ice skating rink within the Nokia Plaza L.A. Live complex will open Saturday at 3 p.m. The 70-by-80-foot surface will be open to the public from Saturday through Jan. 1. Hours for opening day will be 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. 

-- The Kings’ game against the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday will feature a special awareness program for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. Actor Patrick Swayze’s widow, Lisa Niemi, is a spokeswoman for PanCan and will attend the game.

More later at www.latimes.com/sports

-- Helene Elliott in Montreal

Photo: Kings center Brayden Schenn, front, battles Atlanta center Bryan Little for the puck during a game on Oct. 12. Credit: Chris Carlson / Associated Press

 
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