LAKingsinsider's Game Preview
|Peter Harrold's versatility makes him very valuable to Coach Terry Murray.|
Impressive as a defenseman in the Kings' victory over San Jose on Tuesday, Harrold was due to be bumped from the lineup tonight with the return of previously suspended defenseman Sean O'Donnell.
Coach Terry Murray flipped things a bit though, and will have Harrold as the fourth-line right wing alongside Raitis Ivanans and Brad Richardson. Trevor Lewis is expected to be the healthy scratch.
Against the Sharks, Harrold was solid, was an assist and a plus-1 rating in 16 minutes, but not enough to bump any other defensemen from the lineup. But Harrold's ability to play forward, as he did for parts of last season and for most of this year's training camp, allowed him to hang around.
Harrold's presence also serves as something of an insurance policy for Murray, in case O'Donnell is rusty upon his return or in case Davis Drewiske should suffer any negative effects from the big hit he took Tuesday.
"I really liked his game on the blue line, so I'm going to make a change and put him on the right-wing side with Richardson and Ivanans, because I liked his game," Murray said. "The other part of it, because of Drewiske -- and he's fine, but he got hit pretty hard on that play -- and OD's first game back, it gives me that seventh defenseman, a little bit more comfort from my side. That utility player, again."
Initial estimates had Rich Clune being off the ice for another week, but Clune skated in practice Thursday morning and showed no effects of the pulled groin that he suffered late in preseason.
"His progress is a lot faster than I thought it would be," Murray said. "It's been two weeks. He's been skating and he looks like he's pretty comfortable out there."
The Kings leave Friday for a six-game road trip, during which Clune would almost certainly be ready to play at some point. Murray said he didn't know whether Clune would make the initial trip, to St. Louis.
"I'll have to sit down with management and talk this one over," Murray said. "This one kind of surprised me, that he's as quick as he is in his recovery."
CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
Sharks forward Brad Staubitz received a one-game suspension from the league for his hit on Drewiske in Tuesday's game. Staubitz drew a minor penalty for charging when he leveled Drewiske after Drewiske touched the puck for an icing call.