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Kings' morning skate: Martinez in, Westgarth out, Harrold moves to right wing

Alecnew Greetings from Montreal, always a wonderful place to visit and too rarely on the Kings' itinerary.

The Canadiens held their morning skate Wednesday at their practice facility but the Kings skated at the Bell Centre and offered a preview of a few shifts in their lineup for Wednesday night’s game.

Defenseman Alec Martinez, recalled from Manchester of the American Hockey League, will play and will be paired with Drew Doughty. That will put a struggling Jack Johnson back with Rob Scuderi and leave a third pair of Davis Drewiske and Matt Greene. Peter Harrold, the equivalent of a baseball utility infielder, will move up from defense to the right wing on the fourth line, with Brad Richardson and Trevor Lewis. Kevin Westgarth will sit out.

"I want to keep Harry going," Coach Terry Murray said of Harrold. "He’s a guy that brings a lot of energy and he’s made the adjustment very easily in the past, been a pretty good right winger when we played him there, so he’ll get that look tonight.

"Martinez, well we called him up for a reason. He’s the top scorer with Manchester in the AHL, playing well on the power play, shooting the puck, getting some results on the power play, and certainly that’s what we need, to get that part of the game going on a consistent basis and hopefully he can be a catalyst to help get that turned around tonight."

Murray said he paired Martinez with Doughty "to give a young guy called up a good player to play with. I think they both have great hockey awareness. They’re going to move the puck. They’re going to support each other. And I hope if anything pops up Doughty is able to help him in tough situations."

The changes also put Scuderi, Doughty’s previous partner, with Johnson and reunited a pair that

played together quite a bit last season and earlier this season. Scuderi is a sort of defense doctor, able to steady a young defenseman who might be struggling. Johnson has a cumulative -9 defensive rating in his last five games and is -4 for the season.

"Jack had a real good start. I think in the last three or four games there’s been some minuses piled on that we’d like to put a stop to and Scuderi’s been playing real solid," Murray said. "He’s been our anchor back there on the blue line on the defending part of the game and I think it’ll take a little bit of the pressure off in some situations."

Harrold said he’s fine with the move. "Whatever keeps me playing," he said.

The adjustment to playing the wing is minimal, he said.

"It’s just a different mind-set. You have to make sure you’re in the right positions on breakouts from the zone and in the offensive zone," he said. "I think most of the guys on the team know most positions pretty well just from watching, knowing where the other guys will be, so it’s not too big a transition."

Martinez, who had five goals (four on the power play) and 16 points in 20 games with the Monarchs, said his experiences with the Kings last season should help him this time around. He began last season with them but sprained his ankle during practice before his second game and didn’t get another chance until Dec. 17. He played four NHL games last season and had no points.

"Just getting in a game and knowing what it’s about," will be beneficial, he said. "Just knowing what’s going on, from everything before the game, and I know a lot of the guys and things like that. It just makes things a bit easier."

Martinez said he got to the morning skate early enough to review tapes of the Kings’ recent power plays—and if that didn’t send him off screaming, nothing will.

"Just to kind of get a little crash course and update on little changes in the system that they made up here that maybe we didn’t in Manchester," he said of the purpose of the reviews.

But the basic message is simple: "Shoot the puck. You can’t score without shooting," he said.

That’s half the battle.

We’ll have more soon, including an update from General Manager Dean Lombardi on Brayden Schenn’s progress in Manchester, where the 19-year-old center was loaned for a two-week conditioning stint.

-- Helene Elliott, in Montreal

Photo: Kings defenseman Alec Martinez, left, checks Colorado center Greg Mauldin into the boards during a preseason game on Sept. 22. Credit: Jack Dempsey / Associated Press

   
 
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