Morning Skate: Ersberg to Start
|Erik Ersberg will make his first home start since March 16, 2009.(Getty Images)|
Tonight's Lineup | Murray's Comments
One day after he made wholesale changes to the Kings' forward lines, Murray said Erik Ersberg would start in goal tonight against San Jose at STAPLES Center.
That's significant for a couple reasons.
One, Murray has said, multiple times, in reference to the goalies, that he likes to play his best players at home, and that has always been a reference to regular No. 1 starter Jonathan Quick.
Two, Ersberg simply hasn't played that much. Tonight's game will mark only his fifth start of the season, and his first at home, but Ersberg fared well on Saturday when he relieved Quick in the third period and held St. Louis scoreless for 14 minutes.
"I liked the way Ersberg came in and cleaned it up there the other night," Murray said. "He looked real sharp, and he's been working as hard as you can in practice. I think I just need Quicker to get a little refreshed here, take a step back and get some practice time in, and get ready to go again."
In Ersberg's four starts this season, he has allowed two goals twice and four goals twice. Ersberg faced the Sharks on Dec. 9 in San Jose and allowed four goals on 34 shots in a 5-4 overtime victory. This will be his first home start since March 16, 2009.
"It's always nice to play at home, in front of the fans," Ersberg said. "We have great fans here, but other than that, as soon as the puck is dropped, you just watch the puck and the ice and the players."
Quick, recently named to the United States Olympic team, had allowed two or fewer goals in three consecutive games but allowed four goals on 23 shots in the loss to St. Louis on Saturday.
"With Ersberg going in and cleaning up (against St. Louis) and looking real sharp in practice," Murray said, "I thought Quicker was just not quite at the top of his game. There might be a little wear and tear on him, and I just want him to get refreshed."
Murray said Kings defenseman Matt Greene, who suffered an injury during his third-period fight with St. Louis' B.J. Crombeen on Saturday, was scheduled to undergo an MRI on Monday afternoon.
Murray did not, however, sound optimistic about Greene's short-term availability.
"He's getting treatment, but he's going to be a few weeks," Murray said.
With Greene out, rookie Alec Martinez, called up on Sunday, will return to the lineup.
Murray said he would stay with the much-changed forward lines that he established Sunday in practice, which includes changes on every line.
Anze Kopitar will center Alexander Frolov and Scott Parse; Jarret Stoll will center Ryan Smyth and Wayne Simmonds; Michal Handzus will center Brad Richardson and Dustin Brown; and Oscar Moller will center Raitis Ivanans and Brandon Segal.
As in the previous game, Peter Harrold and Teddy Purcell will be healthy scratches.
Murray held players meetings Sunday that lasted approximately two hours, and he made wholesale lineup changes, he said, in an attempt to sharpen his players' attention.
The Kings enter tonight in eighth place in the Western Conference, just one point ahead of Detroit, which has one game in hand over the Kings. A loss tonight could lead to the Kings being out of the top eight tomorrow, but the Kings' most veteran player, Sean O'Donnell, said it's not time to fret, at least not yet.
"It's tough, because you look at these seven home games at a time when we really want to put a stamp on our season and, hopefully, distance ourselves and solidify our position," O'Donnell said. "We had a great game against Detroit, just a couple mistakes, and then we didn't have a solid game. The St. Louis game was probably our first game in a while where we just didn't come out sharp and were flat. You don't want to make too big a deal of it, because really that's just one game.
"The Detroit game, we did everything right. We just make a couple mistakes, and then there was the St. Louis game. It's the kind of thing where, we have to win tonight, so it's just considered one game. If we don't get a win tonight, then it starts to snowball. You want to stop that as quick as you can."