Oscar Moller, drafted as a center, has been on the right wing in the two games he has played since he was recalled from Manchester of the American Hockey League last Friday, and he's likely to stay on the wing.
Moller, generously listed by the Kings as 5-foot-10, has had difficulty competing against some of the behemoths who play center. He has been playing alongside Ryan Smyth and Jarret Stoll, and he scored a tap-in goal Monday in the Kings’ 5-0 victory at Detroit.
So far, Coach Terry Murray has liked what Moller has done.
“He’s a very courageous player for a smaller guy. He plays in the heavy going. He takes some big hits. And he’s involved,” Murray said Thursday after the Kings’ game-day skate at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis.
“He has the right idea now on angling. His body position and [defensive]-zone coverage is much improved. There’re other parts of the game that he gets drifting away sometimes from what needs to get done, but that’s a young player learning to figure out what the NHL game is all about on a consistent basis.
“But he’s much improved from year one, and he’s going to be a good player in the National Hockey League, there’s no question. We said that the day we sent him down from training camp, that he can play in the league right now somewhere.”
For now, somewhere is on the wing.
“I like big center-ice men. Maybe it’s just my opinion. He can play center some places, but I think he’s more of a winger,” Murray said.
Moller is fine with playing the wing and said he spent most of his time at Manchester on the wing.
“I probably feel more comfortable with that right now than playing center,” said Moller, who played 34 games for the Kings last season and had four goals and seven points. “It’s fun to be up again. I’m just going to try and make the most of it and try and contribute and enjoy the time I get.”
He said he hadn’t had much trouble adjusting to his new line mates.
“I’ve just got to try and read off them,” he said. “Smitty really likes working around the net and in front of the net, so I’m trying to get the puck low to him sometimes and try to create stuff out of that. I want to try to attack with speed too.”
A few notes:
*Defenseman Rob Scuderi, who needed 25 stitches to close a cut on his lip caused by a high stick, wore a mouth guard Thursday morning and said he would wear it in Thursday’s game if it wasn’t too uncomfortable. “I don’t want to have stitches again,” he said.
*Bob Miller, the TV voice of the Kings, suffered an upper-body injury Wednesday. OK, it was a sprained wrist, the result of a fall on the icy sidewalks of St. Louis. Miller said he put ice packs on the hand and was grateful it wasn’t broken. His vocal cords are fine, and he will be in the broadcast booth, as usual.
*Murray was asked about Detroit’s 51 shots on goal Monday, and though he acknowledged the Kings gave up a lot of good scoring chances, he didn’t seem angry.
One possible reason: The same off-ice officials who counted 51 shots for the Red Wings also credited Kings defenseman Matt Greene with playing three shifts in the second period even though Greene never got onto the ice. He was shaken by a first-period hit from Niklas Kronwall and wasn’t given medical clearance to play after the opening period. He won't play Thursday against the Blues.
“You can go into a lot of buildings and recount the shots after the game and there’s going to be a big change in numbers sometimes,” Murray said. “It was what it was, but we’ve got to focus on this game tonight.
“The year I scouted for the Flyers, I sat up there, beside the guys who count the shots, and they’re a long way away. It’s hard from up there to see what’s going on and keep track of everybody. But I saw the process and I was thinking, ‘Wow.’ That was my reaction when I came away. ‘Is that how it’s done?’ ”
*Murray’s goaltending plan has Jonathan Quick starting against the Blues on Thursday, Jonathan Bernier starting at Nashville on Saturday and Quick starting Sunday at Chicago. Bernier hasn’t played since Nov. 24 at Montreal.
“It’s just time for Bernier to get in. He’s been working very hard at his game. He’s been putting a lot of attention in practice,” Murray said. “The goalie coaches have been around a couple times now to give him a little refocus on some of the technical sides of the game, and he’s ready to get playing.”
More later at www.latimes.com/sports.
-- Helene Elliott in St. Louis