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The more things change, the more it's like the Kings

December 19, 2010 |  2:54 pm

Brad Richardson is in, Oscar Moller is out, and Coach Terry Murray has come up with two new line combinations.

Just another day with the Kings, who activated Richardson off injured reserve and sent John Zeiler back to Manchester of the American Hockey League on Sunday.

Moller had a goal in his first game, at St. Louis on Thursday, and two assists on Saturday in the Kings’ 6-1 victory over Nashville but came out of the lineup anyway. Seems like a curious decision, but Murray said he wanted to get Richardson back in and will put Richardson on the left side with Trevor Lewis and Kevin Westgarth on the fourth line.

“An injured player, I’m going to put him back in the lineup if he’s ready to go,” Murray said of Richardson. “He’s a regular on our team, and Oscar was called up for an emergency look, as Zeiler was, so he’s the one that’s coming out.”

The third line will be reconfigured too and will have Alexei Ponikarovsky — a standout Saturday at Nashville — on the right side with center Jarret Stoll and left wing Ryan Smyth.

Ponikarovsky appears to be out of the doghouse, anyway.

“He was never in the doghouse. I just needed better play. And he gave it,” Murray said. “He played well [Saturday] night. Very well. He had the puck on his stick a long time. Certain stretches in the offensive zone, he was using his size, his speed, he was protecting the puck, recovering pucks.

“That’s the way he has to play. He has to take advantage of that 235 pounds. He’s got to separate man from the puck, wear down defensemen, be an important player — be an effective player on the offensive side of the game to create those scoring chances like he did" Saturday night.

The defense pairs will be fluid, Murray said, though he’s planning to use Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson as a shutdown pair against the Blackhawks’ top line of Jonathan Toews centering for Patrick Sharp and Troy Brouwer.

At least Murray won’t have to worry about facing Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa and Viktor Stalberg, who are injured and unable to play.

“High-scoring, dangerous guys, and I think the two best defensemen we have against those guys would work best,” Murray said of the Toews line. “So that will probably be the matchup we’re looking for.”

More later at www.latimes.com/sports

-- Helene Elliott in Chicago

 

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