Johnson (mini-)update

Jack Johnson has been participating in full practices with his teammates this week, but he is wearing a yellow (non-contact) jersey. Johnson says nothing has changed and he won’t be back from his shoulder surgery until after the all-star break, but…I don’t know. Watching him skate, it’s hard to believe he’s going to stay out of the lineup for another two months. That’s just my opinion. Johnson said he occasionally experiences mild pain after practices, and the Kings are tentative to push his comeback because they’re concerned about what will happen the first time he takes a big hit, but it’s definitely worth taking a closer look at this situation over the next month.

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Murray: both goalies will play

Jason LaBarbera beat Edmonton on Wednesday and Erik Ersberg beat Chicago on Saturday. Tomorrow night against Toronto, the Kings will go back to LaBarbera, who has a 2.87 goals-against average and a .890 save percentage this season, compared to Ersberg’s 2.29 and .900. After practice today, I asked Terry Murray how he planned to handle the goaltending situation in the near future…

MURRAY: “We’ll play LaBarbera tomorrow. We’ve got four games in six days. We’ve said this all along, that it’s important to have two goalies who are capable of playing and do keep playing. I really like Barbs’ game when he played in Edmonton. He had a big win for us there and it was important to bounce back and do the right stuff as a team and get the win on the road under our belt. He’s ready to play and he’s hungry and he wants to get back in there, so he will get the game tomorrow. I know Toronto has some very big forwards who go to the net real hard, and Barbs is a big man who can match up to that battle that’s going to be there in front of the net.”

To follow up, I asked Murray if, in general, he felt comfortable rotating goalies, or whether he would prefer to pick one goalie and stick with him…

MURRAY: “If I had a number one guy that could play 82 games, I would do that. But you take a look around, and there’s only three or four of those guys in the league. In our situation, I’m going to keep going with two goaltenders. I have confidence in both guys. I think after 20 games now, the first 10 belonging to Barbs and the next 10 basically belonging to Ersberg, I got a feel and read as to what their games are about. That was important for me to be able to see that, and to get to know who they are. From here on out, I can’t make a statement today as to how I’m going to deal with it, but I know that this week, with four (games) in six days, both goalies are going to play.”

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Murray discusses Boyle’s demotion

Brian Boyle got sent to Manchester of the AHL today. He has played in 14 games for the Kings this season, with one goal, zero assists, a minus-7 rating and 12 penalty minutes. Boyle’s problem, in the eyes of the coaches, is the same thing that drew criticism from the previous coaching staff: a perceived inability to play a consistent two-way game. Boyle’s season has been a series of fits and starts, and the Kings felt it was time to make a move, particularly with John Zeiler returning from his three-game suspension. Here’s what Terry Murray said about Boyle and his play this season…

MURRAY: “We need a lot more from him, yeah. He needs to go play and find the kind of game that is going to be there day in and day out in the National Hockey League. He had some good games, but obviously we need to be more consistent in the performance. We had a couple conversations here in the last two or three days. We watched video together. We watched some of his games, the last three games he played, and critiqued it. Then we spoke again this morning. In my mind, he has a very good idea and understanding of where I am with him and what he needs to give a big push to in his game when he’s playing in Manchester.

“The thing we know happens when a player goes down, he’s going to play in all situations. He’s going to be able to put his points up on the board, but I wanted to keep his focus on the areas of his game that I’m talking about with him. I reminded him of that, that even though you’re going to be able to do things playing in the American Hockey League, it’s very important that you keep this part of the game in your mind, that this is what I need to see the next time you come play for us.”

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Gauthier’s foot

As previously posted, Denis Gauthier suffered a right foot injury when he blocked a shot in the third period yesterday. Gauthier will have a MRI on Monday, but he’s already walking around with a soft boot on his foot. Here’s what Gauthier said about the injury and the nature of how it happened…

GAUTHIER: “There was a lot of swelling today so they immobilized it and we’ll see what happens. We’re going to get a MRI tomorrow, so we’ll be able to know how bad it is. Hopefully how good it is. … It felt a little (worse) than usual. Most defensemen block a million of those in their careers, so it’s just part of the job. You take the pain and it doesn’t change the way you play. That’s what we’ve got to do. We’ve got to help out and play good defense and block as many shots as we can. If I had to do it again, I wouldn’t change a thing. It can happen any time. Sometimes you see (the shot) and sometimes you don’t. This time, I just happened to position myself in the right spot and the guy had a lot of time to take the shot. He took a couple steps and was able to get a lot on that shot.”

And here’s Terry Murray, talking about Gauthier’s status, the probability that he could return to the lineup soon and who might take his place if he can’t play…

MURRAY: “He’s got quite a bit of swelling. I was talking to him before the practice and looked at his foot. He’s got some swelling and, I don’t know, I doubt it. I don’t know. We’ll get some doctor information tomorrow. … Harrold would be the guy going in. We have six defensemen here who are healthy and ready to go. … Even if (Gauthier) is out, I don’t think there’s going to be a need to call anyone up. So we’ll just get Peter in. He played well in his last game, and we’ll let him go.”

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Practice/injury update

A couple quick things, with more quotes and notes to follow…

– Denis Gauthier hurt his right foot while blocking a shot in the third period yesterday. He didn’t skate today and will have a MRI tomorrow, but he’s walking around on a boot so that’s not encouraging.

— Jason LaBarbera will start in goal tomorrow. Terry Murray cited the upcoming compact schedule and also said, beyond that, that both goalies will play regularly.

No other lineup changes, it seems. Quotes a bit later…

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The Saga of Lauri Tukonen

Former Kings winger Lauri Tukonen is on the move again. Tampa Bay acquired him from Dallas in exchange for defenseman Andrew Hutchinson. Tukonen has been playing in Finland this season, where he has five goals and eight assists in 22 games.

I’ll be heading out to practice this morning. Anyone have any questions they’d like to get answered?

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From Gosselin to Berthiaume to Chabot…

Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal, one of the sport’s top scribes, took a look this week at the Kings’ (rather bleak) goaltending history. His first paragraph really puts it in perspective…

“The Los Angeles Kings have been around for more than four decades, but have had only three goalies who could be considered real stoppers.”

There’s some good stuff in this story. Nothing terribly new for anyone who has watched the Kings for more than, oh, 20 minutes or so, but it’s a very good read…

Elite goalies not part of Kings’ men

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Monarchs making noise

Hope everyone had a good holiday yesterday. And for those who don’t have to work today, congrats, and thanks for staying off the 405 this morning.

A couple items of note on the Manchester Monarchs. They got off to a pretty bad start, all around, but now they’re surging, with five consecutive victories heading into tonight’s game against Portland. Who’s making the noise? Well, after a bumpy start, Jonathan Bernier is coming around. He has won four consecutive starts and had a shutout last weekend against Lake Erie. Bernier has a 2.50 goals-against average this season. He’s still splitting time with Jonathan Quick, who has allowed two goals in each of his last four starts and has his GAA down to 2.87.

On the scoring side, Justin Azevedo is back, after his training-camp wrist injury. He’s back, all right. Azevedo has four goals and three assists in his first five games. Teddy Purcell has also been strong offensively in the last two weeks, with six goals and six assists in his last seven games. Purcell now leads the Monarchs with team highs of eight goals and 17 points in 17 games. Gabe Gauthier has 13 assists (16 points) and Trevor Lewis has four goals and seven assists.

On defense, Alec Martinez has one goal, one assist and a plus-4 rating in his last six games, Joe Piskula is plus-4 in his last four games and Viatcheslav Voynov has two goals, two assists and a plus-4 rating his his last six games.

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