Chicago pulled back within two goals when Patrick Sharp scored an even-strength goal with 8:28 remaining…
John Torchetti will be back behind the bench at Staples Center tonight, as an assistant coach for the Blackhawks. You might remember Torchetti as the Kings’ interim coach for the final 12 games of the 2005-06 season — he went 5-7 — after Andy Murray got fired. Torchetti is in his second season as a Chicago assistant.
From the random-facts file…Torchetti and Terry Murray are both former coaches of the Florida Panthers. Murray led the Panthers from 1998 to 2001 and Torchetti coached the Panthers, in an interim role, for the final 27 games of the 2003-04 season.
I asked Terry Murray a question that came up in the Open Forum the other day, whether the Kings would go back to seven defensemen once everyone is healthy. The answer, it seems, is no, although I didn’t anticipate the reasoning that Murray gave. It’s a very honest and insightful look into the way that NHL teams are run in this salary-cap era, when waiver and cap issues play such a big part. It won’t impact things much, because the Kings have an open roster spot available when Oscar Moller returns.
Question: You have eight healthy defensemen right now. Long term, do you got down to seven, or do you stay with eight because of Harrold’s versatility or other factors?
MURRAY: “To be honest, and to answer that as candidly as I can, those decisions are almost out of the coaches’ hands these days, with the (salary) cap that’s in place today and the contracts that are in place. That ends up being more of a decision made by management. If there was something to happen with a player, then you have seven (defensemen). If not, we have eight. That’s kind of my approach to it. It’s not my position, with the way things are in the league, to go to anybody and say, `I only want to have seven.’ It is what it is, with the numbers. I’m comfortable with eight. It’s great for running your practices, that’s for sure. It doesn’t demand too much of anyone. It’s always nice, because if something happens, you have an NHL player that is ready and accessible to you. Then, as we talked about with (Harrold) before, he has that versatility. To me, that’s where it’s at in the NHL today, to have that guy who can perform both sides, front and back. So I’m comfortable with what we’ve got.”
Kyle Calder, the all-time leader in Open Forum questions, has two goals and two assists in his last three games, and is one of the main reasons that Terry Murray is pleased with the Brown-Calder-Stoll line. Calder has only six goals and 10 assists in 41 games this season, but it seems as though Murray now envisions Calder in a different role than he did earlier this season…
Question: In talking about the Brown-Calder-Stoll line, Calder seems to be the one who is benefitting from it the most. What are you seeing in his game and the way he fits on that line?
MURRAY: “Coming off of Handzus’ line, which I look at as my checking line, I just have a sense — and it’s not a conversation that I had — but I just have a sense that (Calder) looks at himself more as a contributor in terms of being in the front of the net and battling in the offensive zone, that kind of play. He is telling me that through his performance with Stoll. They really enjoy playing for each other, with the battle and the board work. That’s his M.O., that’s what he has always shown in his years in the NHL. He does have to play without the puck and he has to check, as everybody does, but I think the assignment against top lines might not have suited him the best.”
Brad Richardson, who has been out of the lineup since he suffered a freak cut on his lower leg during practice on Dec. 3, will be back on the lineup. Richardson will play left wing alongside center Michal Handzus and right wing Wayne Simmonds. Erik Ersberg, who missed the previous two games with a mild knee strain, is available as the backup goalie to Jonathan Quick tonight. Here’s what Terry Murray said today regarding the status of all three players…
Question: Ersberg is ready to go, if you should need him?
MURRAY: “Ersberg is ready to go. I would say, to put a percentage on it, he’s probably 99 percent. He has gotten better every day. His knee has been taped, rather than the brace, and he feels much more comfort with that. If he had to go in, he would feel comfortable doing that.”
Question: How far away is Oscar Moller?
MURRAY: “He’s going to get it looked at again tonight. He went to the doctor two days ago. The doctor x-rayed him and took a real close look. It’s healing but it’s not 100 percent. There is more time needed. It’s four to six weeks for a broken bone, and it’s just approaching that now, that fourth week. He will be looked at again tonight, and hopefully the doctor can give us a little better indication of whether he’s ready to get going or not. I’m just waiting for that feedback.”
Questions: Richardson goes back in tonight?
MURRAY: “Yeah. I only have 12 forwards, so they will all play and Harrold will play defense. It’s good for him. He’s been out a long time, my goodness. That cut on his ankle took incredibly long. It’s longer than what Oscar is going to be with a broken bone almost, unfortunately. It was just in a bad place. He made a big committment. He agreed to go down and play three games for Manchester, and it was great for him to do that, and because of that he needs to go in and play. He’s on the left side tonight, with Handzus at center and Simmonds on the right side. I think it’s kind of a nice fit for him, with his checking responsibilities and his quickness, and I hope he really starts to get it going here.”