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Murray Is Giving Storr an Opening

After parts of seven seasons in the NHL, King goalie Jamie Storr gets to start his first season opener tonight against the Washington Capitals.

His fond wish is that it’s the start of something big.

“It’s a great feeling,” he said. “A special opportunity would be to start the home opener [Wednesday against the St. Louis Blues] as well.”

There’s one way to make sure he does.

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Coach Andy Murray is looking for a goalie to take charge, to play so well that he can’t be taken out of the lineup. Ideally, Murray would love to have a goalie play 60 games.

A year ago, when Murray coached his first NHL game, Stephane Fiset was in goal at Nashville and shut out the Predators. Two nights later, he beat the Blues at St. Louis. He played in all of the first 10 games, nine of them alone, and in 14 of the first 16. The Kings were 9-4-3 in those games en route to a start that sent them to the playoffs for the second time in seven years.

And then Fiset was injured.

And Storr came along.

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It has been that way all Storr’s career.

“I’ve thought I’ve had a good camp, and now that the opportunity has come my way, I’ve got to make the most of it,” Storr said.

One of the reasons the opportunity is there is that Fiset has a sprained left knee, suffered at the Arrowhead Pond shortly after he had given up his first goal of the exhibition season.

He had played 75 shutout minutes to that point.

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And now it’s Storr’s turn, as it will be Saturday at Buffalo. After that, backup Steve Passmore could get a start Monday at Columbus, Ohio.

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Last season’s opener was preceded by Murray going over Nashville’s roster player by player and challenging the Kings: Is anyone in this lineup better than you?

That might be more difficult with Washington, the Southeast Division champion with 102 points last season.

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A good King start is important.

Last season it was essential.

“Last year, if we got off to a bad start, it was because I was a high school coach,” said Murray, who came to the Kings from Shattuck St. Mary’s school in Minnesota. “There’s no question, compared to last year’s Kings this is a better team. . . . We feel we’re a good match for Washington if we play our game.”

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Murray is keeping the Kings’ younger players on a short leash, reminding centers Steve Reinprecht and Eric Belanger, defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky and winger Tomas Vlasak: “You’ve earned the right to play here. That doesn’t mean you have a job.”

The message is clear: Some good players were sent to the minor leagues, but their plane tickets could be round-trips if those who stayed with the Kings don’t perform.

TONIGHT

at Washington, 4,

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Fox Sports Net

* Site--MCI Center.

* Radio--KRLA (1110).

* Records (1999-2000)--Kings 39-31-12-4, Capitals 44-26-12-2.

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* Record vs. Capitals (1999-2000)--1-0-1.

* Update--Washington comes into tonight’s game without its No. 1 goalie, injured Vezina Trophy winner Olaf Kolzig; its top scorer last season, holdout Chris Simon, who had 29 goals; and its top defenseman, Sergei Gonchar, who led all NHL defensemen in goals the last two seasons, but who signed only Tuesday and is being held out until he has had a few practices. Craig Billington will start in goal. The rest of the Capitals will face a King team that shows a new look in aggressive forechecking and penalty killing and a scattering of rookies in centers Eric Belanger and Steve Reinprecht and defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky.


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