Terry Murray, Jack Johnson

The Kings are looking for everywhere for offense…literally, everywhere

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With just 12 goals scored in their last six games, the Los Angeles Kings are looking for added offense.

Just not sure they’re looking in the right places.

Prior to tonight’s game against Vancouver, Kings head coach Terry Murray said that Trent Hunter will be back in the lineup for the first time in 11 days and that Colin Fraser will make his Kings debut after being out for six months. They’ll replace Kevin Westgarth and Brad Richardson, once again shaking up L.A.’s bottom two lines. Jarret Stoll will center Klye Clifford and Hunter while Ethan Moreau will center Trevor Lewis and Fraser.

“Quite simply, we’re looking to get some scoring going here, get some depth,” Murray explained to LA Kings Insider. “Hunter is a guy who, historically, has provided some scoring in the league. He’s got a heavy shot. He can give us second and third opportunities just by getting the puck on net with that heavy shot of his. We hope that we can recover some of those loose pucks and that good things will happen.’’

“Historically” is a good way of putting it with Hunter, because it happened a long time ago. After scoring 20-plus goals in two of his first three years, he’s spent the last few seasons injured (with decreasing goal totals.) Hunter’s scored just 25 times in his last 138 games.

As for Fraser — can’t imagine expectations are high. He’s scored 16 goals in 224 career games and is a bang-crash energy guy at best. That said, he couldn’t produce much less than the Kings’ other fourth-liners: Moreau, Lewis, Richardson, Westgarth and Hunter have combined for a measly four points this year, all of them assists.

The Kings are dangerously close to being the most top-heavy team in the NHL. Almost all the offense is coming from Anze Kopitar, Justin Williams, Mike Richards, Dustin Brown and Simon Gagne — the blueline production has been minimal (Jack Johnson and Drew Doughty have just 11 points between them) and secondary scoring from the bottom-six forwards nonexistent.

Remember, this is a team that lost 75 points from last season in Wayne Simmonds (now with Philly), Michal Handzus (now in San Jose) and Alexei Ponikarovsky (now in Carolina).  That production isn’t easily replaced — something the Kings are starting to figure out.

Struggling Sabre Tyler Ennis out with upper-body injury

Tyler Ennis, James Wisniewski
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Tyler Ennis can probably relate with the Buffalo Sabres’ opponent on Wednesday, as he’s struggling almost as much as the Nashville Predators.

Perhaps some of that has to do with health?

Whether that’s the case or not, Ennis is out for the Sabres tonight, as the team announced that he’s dealing with an upper-body injury.

The Buffalo News discussed Ennis’ struggles in this article.

“I’d say he’s pressing too much. You can’t make those plays in every situation and in every point you touch the puck,” Dan Bylsma said to the Buffalo News. “ … He’s just got to simplify his game. He is a special player who can make those plays, but he can’t be trying to do it every time he touches the puck.”

He’ll need to wait a while to start getting things together, anyway.

WATCH LIVE: Wednesday Night Rivalry (Flyers-Islanders; Blackhawks-Sharks)

Ryan White, Matt Martin
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You can check out tonight’s Wednesday Night Rivalry doubleheader on NBCSN, and you can also stream them online.

Here are the handy links for the two contests.

First, the New York Islanders host the Philadelphia Flyers.


After that, the Chicago Blackhawks visit the San Jose Sharks.


Braun out with upper-body injury; Zubrus to make Sharks debut

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The San Jose Sharks will be missing a top-4 defenseman tonight when they host the defending champs from Chicago.

Justin Braun has an upper-body injury. His status is considered day-to-day.

“Brauny has been one of our unsung heroes here through the first quarter of the season,” coach Peter DeBoer told CSN Bay Area. “He’s played some outstanding hockey. So, we’re going to miss him, but it’s a great opportunity for Mueller and Tennyson and one of these guys to establish themselves. It’s a great opportunity for us to reward Dillon for how well he’s played.”

Against the Blackhawks, Brenden Dillon will take Braun’s spot on the top pairing alongside Marc-Edouard Vlasic; Paul Martin and Brent Burns will stay together on the second pairing; and 20-year-old Mirco Mueller will skate with Matt Tennyson.

Mueller has played just four games for the Sharks this season. In his last game, Thursday in Philadelphia, he received only 9:13 of ice time.

Also tonight, new Shark forward Dainius Zubrus is expected to debut on the fourth line.

Related: Sharks sign Zubrus, because DeBoer

Johansen calls trade rumblings ‘weird,’ says relationship with Torts is ‘great’

Ryan Johansen
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One day after reports surfaced of Ryan Johansen being at the center of trade talks, all parties involved from Columbus did what they’re supposed to do — downplay the situation.

You can read the denials in full over at the Dispatch, but here’s the gist:

— Johansen said the rumors were “weird” and that he’s “never seen it before.” He also said there were no issues between him and head coach John Tortorella, calling the relationship “great.”

— GM Jarmo Kekalainen wouldn’t address the report, nor would Johansen’s agent, Kurt Overhardt.

— Johansen added he hasn’t spoken to any of Columbus’ management about the trade rumblings.

So there’s that. What’s next?

At this stage of the game, it’s hard not to think about another Overhardt client, Kyle Turris.

Turris, you’ll recall, spent four (mostly) stormy years with the Coyotes before his trade out to Ottawa was orchestrated. Turris eventually told GM Don Maloney “this is not going to work out” with the club, and he was gone.

So, consider the similarities now:

— Turris was 22 at the time of the trade, with four years and 137 games under his belt.

— Johansen is 23, with five years and 291 games.

— Both had contentious contract holdouts with their respective clubs.

— Both are Overhardt guys.

— The Turris trade happened after the Coyotes went from Wayne Gretzky to Dave Tippett as head coach.

— Johansen is already on his third head coach (Scott Arniel, Todd Richards, Tortorella).

For now, these are all coincidences (or a forced narrative, depending what you think of the author).

And, of course, the one big — big — difference between the two is that, at the time of his trade, Turris wasn’t as good or established a player as Johansen currently is. Therefore, logic suggests any Johansen trade would be a lot more blockbuster-y and, therefore, probably more complex.

And as we know, complex deals aren’t easy to pull off.