December 9, 2011 4:30 pm

Positive step for Mike Richards

There was a positive step for Mike Richards, who has now been out for a week since he took a hit to the head in last Thursday’s game against Florida. At the end of practice today, Richards did some light skating for a few minutes. Richards is eligible to come off injured reserve at any time now, but there’s no indication as to when he might return. Richards hasn’t yet been medically cleared, and even when he is cleared, he will likely need to participate in a handful of full-team practices. Terry Murray said Richards got examined by a team doctor at Staples Center last night.

MURRAY: “The only thing I can say about him is that he’s been given the green light to do more. He’s on the ice today. He rode the bike harder today, and does the off-ice workouts. Once he gets through that part, the positive, seeing him on the ice, that’s a real positive to me. Because clearly now, the indication is that everything was good on the off-ice workout. So that’s the next step, and he will progress from there.’’

To be certain, the Kings miss Richards. Without him, they’ve scored a total of five goals in their last three games, and it’s probably not a coincidence that the Kings’ power play has gone 1-for-10 in three games without Richards.

MURRAY: “Mike Richards is a premier player. He brings so much to the game himself, as an individual. His puck play, his vision on the ice. He’s a very creative guy. He can score goals. He’s one of the better penalty-killers in the league. He’s always a threat on the penalty kill, to be able to get on the go and turn pucks over and score shorthanded goals. He’s a big hole in our lineup right now, but injuries happen. Loktionov, his game was better last night, and that’s the opportunity he gets because of Richards being out of there. We just move along. You don’t miss all of Mike Richards. You miss the difference between Richards and Loktionov. So that’s still considerable, but that’s the way it goes, and guys have to step up.’’

Willie Mitchell is set to return tomorrow, after missing three games with a groin injury, although it’s not yet known which defenseman will come out of the lineup.

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