Kings hope for winning performance from Oscar Moller
Kings Coach Terry Murray was asked Thursday morning what he has said to Oscar Moller since the Swedish forward was recalled from the minor leagues Wednesday.
Murray didn’t give an exact recap other than to say they reviewed basic stuff, but Murray undoubtedly uttered the words “score some goals” at some point. Maybe more than once.
Murray said Moller, who was summoned on an emergency basis after Justin Williams suffered a dislocated shoulder, will get some power-play time against the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night at Staples Center in addition to playing regular shifts on the right side on the top line with Dustin Penner and Anze Kopitar.
“He knows what’s at stake and what the opportunity is for him,” Murray said. “This is a great situation for him to come up at a time of the year like this and fit on a top line and be an important player. It’s his third, fourth recall and we’ll be watching his performance. This is important for him.”
Moller was recalled once before this season, recording a goal and two assists in four games in early December. Last season he played two games in October and 32 more between Dec. 7 and March 2 before being returned to Manchester of the American Hockey League. Overall, he had four goals and seven points in 34 games. He also played 40 games with the Kings in the 2008-09 season, scoring seven goals and 15 points.
He has speed and skill but he’s generously listed on the roster at 5-feet-10 and 189 pounds, a small guy in a big guys’ league. Now, on the first line — at least to start — he's likely to face opponents’ top shutdown defensemen and checking lines and must find a way to be effective.
“He’s going to have the attention because of Kopitar and that’s what he has to learn to deal with,” Murray said. “If he’s going to play in the National Hockey League he’s going to play in your top two lines. He’s a skill player.
“Regardless of what the physical comparables are when you’re playing against other teams, other players, you’ve got to play the game and you’ve got to find a way to have success and dig in and deal with what’s in front of you. That’s the exciting challenge that you have as a player playing in this league every night. You’re playing against the top players in the world, and it’s a challenge.”
Moller was drafted as a center but said he played the right wing almost exclusively for Manchester this season. He usually had Marc-Andre Cliche on the left wing. “Unfortunately he’s hurt right now,” Moller said.
And his usual center was Andrei Loktionov. “But he got hurt too,” Moller said.
So everyone he plays with gets hurt?
“I don’t know if I’m the unlucky charm. I don’t think so,” he said, laughing. “It’s just unfortunate. Andrei hurt his shoulder and Marc hurt his thumb, I think. Things like that happen sometimes.”
-- Helene Elliott
Photo: Oscar Moller of the Kings looks to beat Dave Scatchard of the St. Louis Blues to the puck. Credit: Dilip Vishwanat / Getty Images