Any day now the Kings will make official what has been suspected for weeks: Jason Allison and Adam Deadmarsh won't play again this season.
Suffering from post-concussion symptoms, the top-line forwards are not close to returning to the lineup and after the Kings are mathematically eliminated from the playoff chase the club will announce that their seasons have ended.
"There's no sense taking a risk," Coach Andy Murray said.
For the same reason, No. 1 goaltender Felix Potvin and forwards Steve Heinze, Ken Belanger and Michael Cammalleri also are expected to remain sidelined through the April 6 season finale at Vancouver. All but Potvin are suffering from post-concussion symptoms, Belanger to the point that the Kings believe his career could be threatened. Potvin is sidelined because of a knee injury.
Fifteen days ago, they were only four points out and Murray chastised Allison for stating publicly that his season might be finished. But in a span of 72 hours the deficit swelled to 10 points and the Kings started to accept the truth.
In a season the Kings have been ravaged by injuries to key players, Allison has not played since Jan. 25. Deadmarsh has been sidelined since Dec. 15.
Neither is skating, nor working toward an imminent return.
Last week, Allison traveled to Montreal to undergo neurological tests administered by a concussion specialist but returned with no answers.
"Anything that bothers me, she said to stay away from," he said. "Rest and relaxation, apparently, is the quickest route [to recovery]."
The problem is, even routine activities such as driving a car, playing with his children or watching television are potentially troublesome for Allison, who said he has suffered bouts of depression and mood swings.
He has been told not to exercise, to avoid physical exertion.
"It's driving me crazy," said Allison, who was the Kings' leading scorer last season. "It's the hardest thing I've had to deal with."
Already sidelined twice previously because of injuries to his right knee, the burly center has been limited to 26 games this season.
Still, that's six more than Deadmarsh has played. The high-scoring winger suffered a concussion Nov. 12 at Toronto, returned for five games in December and was kneed in the head by teammate Craig Johnson on Dec. 15 at Phoenix.
Suffering a second concussion, he hasn't played since.
A year ago, Deadmarsh, Allison and Potvin were the key figures in leading the Kings into the playoffs, but none made it into February this season.
Potvin suffered a sprained right knee Jan. 28 at San Jose. Expected to be out of the lineup six to eight weeks, he has sat out 22 games and is not expected to return to practice, the Kings have said, for at least another week.
"I'd like to get into one or two games," Potvin said Tuesday, "but we'll see toward the end of the season how it feels. Realistically, you'd need at least a week or maybe a week and a half of practice to get back into rhythm."
By then, the Kings will be into the season's final days.
In Tuesday's game, the last-place Flames pushed the Kings another step closer to elimination from the playoff race.
Cristobal Huet, making his third consecutive start for the Kings, lost for the first time in four decisions, giving up goals to Dave Lowry, Jarome Iginla, Oleg Saprykin and Jordan Leopold. Lowry had two assists, Craig Conroy three.
Iginla's second-period goal, which turned out to be the winner, was the 34th overall and 19th in 20 games for last season's NHL scoring champion.
Jaroslav Modry scored the Kings' goal in the first period.
(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)
FLAMES 4, KINGS 1 Calgary112
*--* Calgary...1 1 2 -- 4 KINGS...1 0 0 -- 1
FIRST PERIOD: 1. Cal., Lowry 5 (Conroy, Iginla), 7:59. 2. KINGS, Modry 11 (Prolov), 16:49. Penalties--Regehr, Cal. (high-sticking), 10:37. Avery, KINGS (charging), 14:29. Gelinas, Cal. (holding), 18:40.
SECOND PERIOD: 3. Cal., Iginla 34 (Lowry, Conroy), 11:20. Penalties--Nichol, Cal. (roughing), 2:36. Smithson, KINGS, double minor (charging, roughing), 2:36. Nichol, Cal. (cross-checking), 8:08. Modry, KINGS (hooking), 19:43.
THIRD PERIOD: 4. Cal., Saprykin 8 (Betts), 15:26. 5. Cal., Leopold 3 (Conroy), 18:20 (pp). Penalties--Gelinas, Cal. (hooking), 9:41. Iginla, Cal, major (fighting), 15:38. Avery, KINGS, major (fighting), 15:38. Palffy, KINGS (elbowing), 16:37.
SHOTS ON GOAL: Cal. 12-9-11--32. KINGS 8-8-11--27. Power-play Conversions--Cal. 1 of 4. KINGS 0 of 4.
GOALIES: Cal., Turek 23-27-7 (27 shots-26 saves). KINGS, Huet 2-1-1 (32-28). Att--17,470 (18,118). T--2:14. R--Mark Faucette, Kelly Sutherland. L--Dan Schachte, Jean Morin.
All Times Pacific
MARCH: Thursday--Tampa Bay, 7:30 p.m. Saturday--Boston, 7:30 p.m. 25--Columbus, 7:30 p.m. 27--at Colorado, 5 p.m. 29--Vancouver, 7 p.m. 31--at Phoenix, 6 p.m.
APRIL: 2--Colorado, 7:30 p.m. 4--at Calgary, 6 p.m. 6--at Vancouver, 1 p.m.