Hunter and Fraser Getting Their Shot
Kings preparing for one of the busiest weeks of the year
Fraser and Hunter are both expected to be included in the Kings’ lineup when they host the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night, and for the two veterans, it’s an opportunity to make their case.
The Kings placed winger Scott Parse on injured reserve Wednesday with an undisclosed lower-body injury, meaning Parse will miss at least the next three games. For now, Parse’s spot on the third line will go to Hunter, who has been a healthy scratch for the past five games and has one assist in five games.
Hunter is expected to play next to center Jarret Stoll, but coach Terry Murray said he hadn’t yet decided on a third-line left winger, or who Fraser’s wingers would be on the fourth line.
"He’s very competitive," Murray said of Fraser. "He’s going to be a player who gets in those battles, in those hard areas, all the time. He’s a good special-teams player, penalty-killer. He’s an energy guy."
Both players had interesting journeys to the Kings. Fraser was acquired in the trade that sent Ryan Smyth to Edmonton, but became part of a dispute between the teams when the Kings determined that Fraser couldn’t play and needed foot surgery. A grievance, filed by the Kings against the Oilers, is still pending.
Hunter, recovering from a serious knee injury this summer, had his contract bought out by New Jersey. He came to Kings training camp as a non-roster player, performed well and earned a one-year contract.
"We signed Hunter as a player who can score some goals for us," Murray said. "He’s a veteran player, and his resume is pretty good, to give you a dozen goals or so. I’m hoping that he can get right back in and get on his game and give us some offense."
Fraser will play his first NHL game since March 29 of last season. Coincidentally, it was against the Kings.
"It’s been a long road," Fraser said. "If you date it back to when the injury first happened, last March, it feels like a really long time. But I’m really excited to maybe prove myself and prove what I’ve got, and hopefully I can stay in the lineup and bring some energy and bring something different to the team."
Tomorrow’s game will be the Kings’ third game in four nights, and Saturday’s home game against Minnesota looms as well, at the end of one of the most arduous weeks of the season.
To that end, Murray decided not to put his players through a full on-ice practice Wednesday. All players went through an off-ice workout, and those who didn’t play Tuesday went through an on-ice drills session.
"We had a team workout, and some guys went on the ice and did some work with the goaltenders, but it’s four games in six days," Murray said. "There’s a lot of energy that’s required, so it was the decision to stay off (the ice) today and stay active, just do a little activity with the off-ice work."
BERNIER GETS THE WIN
After losses in his first two starts this season, goalie Jonathan Bernier recorded a win against the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night. That’s no headline, given the fact that Bernier has faced the Predators six times in his NHL career and come away with five wins.
Bernier allowed two first-period goals but then shut out the Predators until the end of the game, when they scored a goal with an extra attacker on the ice.
"Overall, good," Murray said of Bernier’s game. "The first period, there were a couple goals. The second goal, in particular, I’d like to see him have that one. Short-side, inside the circle, top of the circle. Normally he would have that save, but I think maybe he had lost the view of the shooter for an instant, in that quick look. But he really came back and played very well. As we got through the second and third periods, I think he was sharp, on the angle, and really settled things down when the opportunity was there."
Jonathan Quick is scheduled to get the start Thursday against Vancouver.