Who’s on fourth?
The opening-night roster is set, but there are still decisions to be made for Terry Murray and the Kings. Presuming that Brad Richardson plays a second-line role with Scott Parse (sore groin) out of the lineup, and with Kevin Westgarth as a lock for the right-wing spot, that leaves four players — winger Kyle Clifford, center/winger Trevor Lewis and centers Andrei Loktionov and Brayden Schenn — vying for two spots on the fourth line. Has Murray decided how he would like the fourth line to look on Saturday night?
“No, I haven’t,” Murray said. “I haven’t decided that yet. I’ll have an opportunity to watch, over the next few days, and it will probably come down to the day before to make a call on that.”
Just two days ago, Murray indicated it was unlikely that both Loktionov and Schenn, two rookie centers, would make the opening-night roster, but there they are. I asked Murray if the fourth-line center spot would be fluid at the start of the season, giving both Loktionov and Schenn an opportunity to show what they can do…
“With a couple guys on IR, we were allowed to make that decision,” Murray said. “He’s had a great training camp, speaking of Loktionov. There’s a nice upside to his game, and I think it’s important that he has a sense that we appreciate what he has done throughout the training camp and tell him that he’s on the opening-day roster. We’ll go through this, over the next couple days, and then I’ll get to the last day or so before the game and make a decision on who is in.”
Of course, things are likely to change again when Parse returns. Parse was on the ice — after practice — for the first time since he injured his groin and foot in the preseason opener, but is expected to open the season on injured reserve. When Parse returns, it’s almost certain that one of the young forwards will be dropped from the roster, but that doesn’t appear imminent.
“I was surprised to see him out there at the end of practice,” Murray said. “It’s a good thing, but he needs some work now, if he’s even close to saying, `Yeah, I want to get going.’ He needs some time with the coaching staff to get himself back on top of the game.”