Sports

Dustin Brown is confident he will play in Kings' opener next week

Dustin Brown (ice hockey)Darryl SutterLos Angeles KingsSportsKeaton EllerbyJeff SchultzFlorida Panthers

With the Kings heading off to the gambling capital of the world, Las Vegas, for two exhibitions, it almost seemed appropriate to ask a percentage-based question.

Kings captain Dustin Brown continues to improve in his recovery from a hamstring injury … so what are the chances he will be in the lineup for the season opener Thursday against Minnesota at Xcel Energy Center?

"If you ask me — 100%. Barring no setbacks," Brown said Thursday after practice. "If you ask me today: Will I be playing in Minnesota? Yeah."

Said Kings Coach Darryl Sutter: "As long as he continues to go forward, he will be."

Kings goalie Jonathan Quick will play Friday against the New York Rangers, and it appears Sutter is leaning toward having goalies Ben Scrivens and Mathieu Garon split time Saturday against the Colorado Avalanche.

Defenseman Jake Muzzin (tweaked knee) won't play Friday and Sutter said they would wait to see in regard to Saturday.

Brown planned to stay behind in Los Angeles on Thursday and said he would be a game-time decision for Saturday's game. He practiced with the main group Wednesday and Thursday, his first sessions since he suffered a hamstring injury on Sept. 12, the opening day of training camp.

You might say Brown has had a dizzying day or so. His wife, Nicole, gave birth Wednesday afternoon and all are doing well. After practice, Brown had said one of his three sons suggested his sister be named, "Roger."

"A 5-year-old's imagination, I guess," Brown said. Later on Twitter, he said the baby girl's name was Mackenzie.

And the handing-out-of-cigars ritual seems to be a thing from a previous era. "I don't know if we have enough guys that smoke cigars," Brown said. "I don't."

He knows one thing, however. They are stopping at four children.

"This is it. You can put that on the record," Brown said. "I'm done."

Stock rising

Sutter gave considerable insight into upcoming roster moves when asked about the performance of defensemen Keaton Ellerby and Jeff Schultz in camp.

The Kings placed defenseman Andrew Bodnarchuk on waivers and if he goes unclaimed Friday morning, he heads to the Manchester (N.H.) of the American Hockey League.

It became clear from Sutter's comments that Ellerby, who was acquired in a trade with the Florida Panthers in February, will be staying around. The Kings signed Schultz as a free agent in July after he was bought out by the Washington Capitals.

"Keaton's had a great camp," Sutter said. "Very, very good. Jeff's been a guy that's had to adjust to how we play. I said before, it's not easy for a guy to come from the East to the West, first off.

"There's big adjustments between teams, not just in getting to know players but big adjustment in terms of style of play and in terms of responsibility in certain parts of the game."

This sounded a bit like what Sutter said last season when Ellerby was making the adjustment to the Western Conference.

"Keaton has been a guy, quietly, even last year … he played left side and right side and he's an important guy," Sutter said.

"It's probably been on record — guys we are going to need — and obviously we can't play them all. At the same time, they're important players on our team."

lisa.dillman@latimes.com

Twitter: @reallisa

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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Dustin Brown (ice hockey)Darryl SutterLos Angeles KingsSportsKeaton EllerbyJeff SchultzFlorida Panthers
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