Kings hoping for big things from Oscar Moller
Greetings from San Jose, where the Kings held an optional skate this morning before Game 2 of their first-round playoff series against the Sharks.
The Kings will be without center Jarret Stoll, who was suspended by the NHL for one game for his hit from behind on San Jose defenseman Ian White during the Sharks’ 3-2 overtime victory in Game 1. White won’t play Saturday but Sharks Coach Todd McLellan wouldn’t say whether he will play Kent Huskins or Justin Braun in White’s place.
For the Kings, Trevor Lewis will move up from the fourth line to center for Ryan Smyth and Justin Williams, and Oscar Moller will center the fourth line with Alexei Ponikarovsky and Kevin Westgarth.
Moller, who will make his NHL playoff debut, wasn’t the Kings’ first choice and Coach Terry Murray expressed concern about Moller’s stature possibly being a disadvantage against the Sharks’ bigger players.
The Swedish forward is listed as being 5-foot-10 and 189 pounds but that’s probably generous -- and it’s one reason he was moved from his natural center position to the right wing. John Zeiler, who was the Kings’ first choice to be recalled but couldn't clear 24-hour re-entry waivers in time, is listed at 5-11 and 204 pounds but he’s more muscular and scrappier than Moller.
“Oscar’s a good player. He’s more of a winger than he is a center iceman but he has played at center before,” Murray said. “He can handle the puck. He’s got great vision. He’s got good hands. He can make some plays. We’ll use him on the power play.
Moller said he was “pretty excited” about his first NHL playoff game.
“It will be fun and I will bring my ‘A’ game for sure,” he said.
He said the confusion over Zeiler’s recall didn’t bother him. “A little unfortunate but I’m happy I get to get into a game here and play,” he said. “It will be really fun.”
He also said watching the first game enabled him to scout the Sharks a bit. “You see what they’re trying to do in certain situations and what we do good and what we can do better,” he said. “Try and watch a lot of power play and their penalty kill and see how they play.”
More soon following up on the verbal battles that erupted Friday over Stoll’s hit on White and Sharks defenseman Jason Demers’ unpenalized hit on Smyth, which Murray called “five times more severe” than Stoll’s hit.
--Helene Elliott, reporting from San Jose
Photo: Kings center Oscar Moller (9) and Ducks defenseman Toni Lydman overskate a puck in the corner during a regular-season game earlier this month. Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea / US Presswire