He can play both defenseman to replace the injured Kevin Dallman and forward to make up for Zeiler being sent down. The 37-year-old had no points and two penalty minutes in five games for the Kings about a month ago.
Crawford spoke a little on the Kings prospects in the tournament …
“Bernier got a shutout in his first game against the host country and obviously was the star of the game, so Im sure everyone is pleased about that, not the least of which is our fans. The one thing that we do have is a good group of prospects that are coming. A lot are at Manchester and many of them are at the elite junior level throughout the world. We also have Oscar Moller playing for the Swedes and hes had a great season at major juniors and is getting an opportunity, the second time hes gone to represent his country, and is doing extremely well. We all like Oscar. We think Oscar is going to be a sure-fire NHL player. The other two players, Hickey the first rounder, playing defense for Canada, and the surprise for everyone throughout hockey has been wayne simmonds. He was picked in second round last year and is playing in a role (with Canada) where I can see him playing for us one day. Hes a robust, strong guy on the forecheck. Hes got a bit of a power game. Hes probably got that prototypical third line, kill penalties, be conscious and that great skater that seems to be so necessary in todays game. Todays game has taken a turn to speed and he definitely has that.”
Dean Lombardi has been in the Czech Republic watching the games.
“Im sure thats what hes over there evaluating, and also evaluating the prospects on every team,” Crawford said. “Because, when the trades do happen, it seems people will trade prospects. So you want to have a great book on the prospects that other people have. And this world juniors tournament is the best because you see every teams best prospects play against every other teams best prospects with national pride also in the balance. So its a great evaluation tool. Plus theres some undrafted players that I’m sure the crack scouts on the L.A. Kings are scouring.”
These past two days have marked the first time this month the Kings have been able to practice two days in a row. The Kings played 14 games in the first 26 days of December, which — along with travel time and days off for the holidays — created a lack of practice availability. It’s made it difficult for the Kings, who have lost eight games in a row, to break out of their struggles.
“Two practices in a row,” Crawford said. “Its like, wow, you get to work on facets of your game. Lets face it, we havent been sharp. I think part of the reason we havent been sharp is because we’ve been trying to make corrections off video and chalk talks and stuff like that. Theres no substitute for good, hard work and practice.”
“When youre not able to practice, there’s not a lot of time to fix things or adjust or even look back at the game you played since you have to look forward to the next one,” Patrick O’Sullivan said.
Brad Stuart said he hurt his right foot when he was hit by a shot in the Dec. 8 game against Phoenix. X-rays were negative, but the foot has been sore ever since. He took practice off Thursday but was back on the ice Friday and is expected to play this weekend.
“It’s just one of those things that the more I have the skate on the more irritated (the foot) gets, so if I have the chance to give it a rest that’s a good thing,” Stuart said.
Crawford still calls him doubtful. He’s going to make the trip, so there’s a chance he plays. But Cammy seems unsure of what to make of his injury at this point.
“Ill do whatever I can to try to get in the lineup,” Cammalleri said. “Well see what happens. We’ll see what tomorrow brings. There’s been a little bit of improvement. I’ve never had this before. There’s certain things you’ve had before where you know what to expect, know the feeling and can reflect on experience to guide you. This I’ve never had so I’m not really sure what Im feeling. If I feel I can help the team at all, Ill be in the lineup.”
John Zeiler was not at practice Friday and Crawford said he has been sent down to Manchester. No word yet on who the Kings will call up. That Jon Klemm can play defense or forward probably helps his cause. Zeiler, 25, had been up with the Kings all season. The second-year player averaged eight minutes and 35 seconds of ice time over 34 games with one assist and 23 penalty minutes.
Here’s what Crawford had to say about Zeiler: “John Zeiler has I think got caught up in the tenseness and the complications that come from an extended period of play that a team has gone trhough. We can do something for John Zeiler, which is allow him to go down and recapture his game. Hes given us energy. Weve been really pleased with the energy hes given us and the hits that hes given us, but it pretty much stops there. And theres more of a player there in John Zeiler that we believe hes got to continue to develop. Theyre playing a lot of games right now in Manchester. Its going to give him a good opportunity to go down and play. We can’t just throw John in and say, ` John, go out there and be confident with the puck.’ He needs the opportunity to feel confident with the puck. We can’t give him the opportunity right now here, but we can give it to him there. If we’re not going to use him here in a game then he should be playing. I believe that is the thought going into this move. Make no mistake about it, though, John is a quality guy. Hes got great character. We love his enthusiasm, his energy and the physicality he plays with. What were looking at is trying to get him to be a little more of a player with the puck and let him keep progressing.”
Quick notes with more to come …
–John Zeiler was sent down to Manchester
–Michael Cammalleri did not practice and remains doubtful for the weekend games, but he will make the trip
–Brad Stuart was back on the ice and is expected to play
–Jean-Sebastien Aubin said he will get the start tomorrow against Colorado with Jason LaBarbera going Sunday in Chicago.
With Kevin Dallman injured and Brad Stuart banged up, the Kings will definitely bring up a defenseman from Manchester before Saturday’s game at Colorado. I wrote yesterday that the Kings needed to wait until after the holiday roster freeze ended tonight, as Crawford had told us, but some of you pointed out this is false — the Kings can make an injury call-up from Manchester at any time. It will probably come in some time today. I would think Klemm is coming back up. That would follow with Dean’s philosophy on not bringing up the younger prospects this early in the season. But we’ll see.
Jason LaBarbera was the last player off the ice Thursday, staying half an hour past when practice officially ended.
“I didnt really play an awful lot last night so I decided to work extra hard today, I guess,” LaBarbera said.
Crawford pulled LaBarbera less than 13 minutes into the game after he allowed his second goal. LaBarbera has struggled in five games since returning from a rib injury.
“I’m working on seeing the puck better, focusing more on seeing it off guys’ sticks and playing my rebound a little better,” LaBarbera said. “Sometimes, when you miss a bit of time, little things like that get away from you.”
Crawford said LaBarbera and Jean-Sebastien Aubin would each get one game over the weekend, though he wouldn’t say who would go first.