February 8, 2011 5:50 pm

Hobbled Penguins still worthy of respect

The Kings will face the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday. Well, sort of. Sidney Crosby has been out of action since Jan. 5 because of concussion symptoms, isn’t practicing with the Penguins and isn’t expected to play Thursday. Also out is talented forward Evgeni Malkin, who suffered a serious knee injury last week. Still, the Penguins are highly dangerous. Entering today’s game against Columbus, they were 8-2-0 in their last 10 games and had won five consecutive home games. They’re still very strong in net, with Marc-Andre Fleury and Brent Johnson, and today, Terry Murray resisted any suggestion that the Kings are fortunate to be playing the Penguins when they are shorthanded.

MURRAY: “Any time you have two players out of their lineup, it’s very unfortunate for the game, first of all. The National Hockey League needs the premier guys in the game and playing at their best. It’s what it’s all about. It’s entertainment. It’s exciting for the NHL and for the fans, and it’s great for us to come in, as a visiting team, and to (face) the best lineup. You never want to see anybody hurt, but certainly not the premier guys in the game. It’s very unfortunate. Hopefully they will get back quickly. Then, on the other side of it, when those two players are out of the lineup, you have to make sure that, emotionally, that you’re going in with the right attitude, not backing off the gas pedal at all. These are very important games for the L.A. Kings, and we have to come out and play the same game, as hard, intense and focused as if they had a full and healthy lineup.”

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