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Allison, Belanger Due Back in Lineup Tonight

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Times Staff Writer

If 93 points are required to reach the Stanley Cup playoffs in the Western Conference, as they were a year ago, the Kings will need 52 in the second half of the season, which starts tonight against the Edmonton Oilers.

It’s a tall order, but one the Kings filled last season, when they reached the midpoint with 41 points before fashioning a 24-11-4-2 finish, good for 95 points overall and a seventh-place finish in the West.

In fact, in each of their previous three seasons under Coach Andy Murray, the Kings have fared better in the second half, securing 49 of their 94 points in the last 41 games of the 1999-2000 season and 50 of their 92 in the last half of 2000-01.

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Of course, none of those teams was beset with the number of injuries to key players this team has faced. Even with Jason Allison, Eric Belanger and Erik Rasmussen expected back tonight, the Kings still will be without injured regulars Bryan Smolinski, Adam Deadmarsh and Aaron Miller.

“I think it’s a significant time to analyze where you’re at and where you need to go,” Murray said of the season’s midpoint.

“We’re trying to stay positive with our team. We’re trying to say that we’ve battled through a lot and the best is yet to come. Sometimes, adversity brings out the best in people.”

Over the next three months, Murray said, goaltenders Felix Potvin and Jamie Storr will have to be among the Kings’ best players, which they haven’t been while the club has lost five of its last six games and seven of nine.

The Kings’ 2.79 goals-against average is tied for 21st in the league, and Potvin and Storr each have save percentages below .900.

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Allison has 13 points in his last nine games but has not played since re-injuring his right knee Dec. 22.... In the 11 games Deadmarsh has sat out because of post-concussion symptoms, Ziggy Palffy has scored two goals, Brad Chartrand five.

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TONIGHT

vs. Edmonton, 7:30

Fox Sports Net 2

Site -- Staples Center.

Radio -- KSPN (710).

Records -- Kings 17-17-4-3, Oilers 19-13-5-5.

Record vs. Oilers -- 1-0.

Update -- Potvin, who made 17 saves in a 4-1 victory over the Oilers on Nov. 16 at Edmonton, will make his second start in five games. In relief of Storr, he gave up three goals in 12 minutes Tuesday night in the Kings’ 7-4 loss to the Dallas Stars.

Tickets -- (888) 546-4752.

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