That collective sigh coming from El Segundo tomorrow morning will signal the end of the Kings’ brief layover in Southern California. After spending three full days at home, the last two of which included morning practices, it’s off to Pittsburgh and arguably the Kings’ toughest road trip of the season.
The six-games-in-10-days stretch includes games against four of the top seven teams in the Eastern Conference (plus the Islanders and the Blue Jackets).
At some point during the 10 days the Kings will get Marco Sturm back. The veteran left wing, on injured reserve with knee tendinitis since Jan. 19, is going on the trip. Now it’s just a matter of which game he chooses for his comeback.
“It’s not just the knee, but also get my strength back,” said Sturm, who received his final medical treatment yesterday. “It’s been a good week. I’m going to go back hopefully this week. I’ll go day by day.”
As for his speed, “I’m not there (at 100 percent speed) yet, but I’m trying as hard as I can.”
If everyone else stays healthy, someone will have to come off the Kings’ active roster to make room for Sturm. That’s a different topic for a different blog, with a We’ll-Cross-That-Bridge-When-We-Come-To-It-type quote from Terry Murray waiting in the wings.
Progress is also coming slowly but surely for Scott Parse, who skated for about a half-hour at the end of practice and took a couple whacks at the net. Parse said he jogged for about five minutes Monday for the first time since undergoing hip labrum surgery in November. He’ll stay at home and continue to rehab the injury during the Kings’ road trip. No target date has been set for his return.
Among those on the flight to Pittsburgh, defenseman Rob Scuderi attracted the largest media horde after Tuesday’s practice. Scuderi won a Stanley Cup with the Penguins in 2009, then signed with the Kings as a free agent. This will be his first game back in Pittsburgh since then (and just his second against his former team; the Kings hosted the Penguins in Nov. 2009).
“It’s been two years now, so a lot has changed,” Scuderi said. “The team’s a lot different now. I still know half the team. I spent five years there, so I’m sure a lot of memories will come back once I pull into town.”
The Penguins will be without their two best players, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, and Scuderi (and Murray and Jack Johnson) shed some light on just how much of a break the Kings will be catching. Crosby was placed on long-term injured reserve today with a concussion. Malkin’s outlook might be worse after the center tore the ACL and MCL in his right knee over the weekend.
All that and more in tomorrow’s editions.