Sturm is out; Loktionov could be, too.

The Marco Sturm experiment ended today when the Washington Capitals plucked the veteran winger off waivers from the Kings.

On Thursday, Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau told the Washington Post that third-line winger Eric Fehr would miss up to two weeks; adding Sturm could be in response to that injury. One must figure that the Kings did their homework on such a possibility before letting Sturm go. Now that he’s gone, the Kings are down a man entering today’s 1 p.m. game against the Colorado Avalanche.

Don’t expect Andrei Loktionov to be summoned from Manchester.

Monarchs head coach Mark Morris told the Manchester Union Leader that Loktionov is done for the season after sustaining a shoulder or wrist injury Friday.

No word yet on who Anze Kopitar’s left wing will be today.

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Why Marco Sturm is in, and why Andrei Loktionov is out.

It would be easy to view Andrei Loktionov’s weekend demotion as a statement on the 20-year-old’s development – or the lack thereof.

Loktionov was scratched for Saturday’s game against the New York Islanders because “there were a couple more games where he’s starting to get exposed on system play,” Terry Murray said after the Kings practiced Monday. The coach specifically mentioned the shootout loss Thursday against the New York Rangers. “There were three or four different looks that they had that were because of (us) losing some coverage,” Murray said.

Come Sunday, Loktionov was playing for the Manchester Monarchs.
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Loktionov assigned to Manchester.

Four days after the first multipoint game of his NHL career, Andrei Loktionov is back in the AHL.

The Kings assigned the 20-year-old center to Manchester on Sunday, and Loktionov was in the starting lineup for the Monarchs’ noon (EST) game against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

In his second NHL stint this season, beginning Jan. 20, Loktionov had two goals, three assists and a plus-3 rating in 12 games. He had a goal, an assist and a plus-2 rating Wednesday in Columbus, and appeared to be on an upswing since head coach Terry Murray switched him from left wing to his natural center position. Yet Loktionov was made a healthy scratch Saturday in the Kings’ 3-0 loss to the New York Islanders.

That makes the timing of Loktionov’s demotion (not to mention the pretext for juggling lines in the middle of an 8-0-3 streak)less than self-explanatory. Murray told reporters prior to the Islanders game that Loktionov “got exposed a little bit in some of those important situations” – an ambiguous statement, but one that probably alludes to something Murray saw from Loktionov’s defensive abilities.

Still, with the trade deadline only eight days away, one must question what the long-term plan is for Loktionov. Is he seen as a part of the core group that will aid the Kings’ playoff push? If not, is a trade in the works? If he comes back, is he a center or a left wing?

We’ll try to get some answers when the Kings return home to practice this week.

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Kings 4, Washington 1.

Alex Ovechkin – who else – scored on the Capitals’ first shot of the game. That was the extent of the damage, and after a sluggish first period, it was all Kings.

Rather than squeak out a victory by the skin of their teeth, the Kings scored four unanswered goals and denied the same quality chances on the other end. Anze Kopitar tied the game at 1 in the second period by scoring his first goal since Jan. 15, putting back the rebound of a Wayne Simmonds shot from close range.

Andrei Loktionov put back a rebound at the end of a 2-on-1 rush with Kyle Clifford at 3:36 of the third period to give the Kings a 2-1 lead. Michal Handzus whacked in another loose puck in Semyon Varlamov’s crease at 12:28 of the third, and Jarret Stoll flew up the right wing for a much prettier goal at 13:56.

Jonathan Bernier made 22 saves, buckling down after Ovechkin’s goal 66 seconds into the game.

Going back to Dec. 27, when the Kings first slipped into a 2-10 coma, they had only beaten one opponent by three or more goals (a 5-2 win over Edmonton on Jan. 15). Since Jan. 22, they’re 6-0-2 and now have a decisive win over a good team that was booed heartily by the announced crowd of 18,398 at the Verizon Center.

A few more notes:
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