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Layoff breaks a good groove

Times Staff Writer

The NHL schedule has been known for months, but that doesn’t make the adjustment any easier for the Kings, who are experiencing a rare “in-season” weeklong layoff.

“I know that I don’t like having a week off. I like playing games,” forward Dustin Brown said. “For me, I get into the groove of practice, game, practice, game, and I feel better that way.”

Unfortunately for Brown and his teammates, the NHL schedule is what it is and the Kings, who have won five of their last seven games, do not play again until they host the Dallas Stars on Saturday.

“We’ve been playing so much lately, it’s like, ‘Boom,’ it is here all of the sudden,” Brown said of the Kings’ quirky early season schedule that has included a lengthy trip to Europe and two regular-season games in London.

“It’s funny, but when you first looked at it on the calendar, you’re thinking, ‘The first week of November? Wow, that’s a long way away,’ ” Brown said. “Now it’s here. I think that it could be good for our team as a whole, but me personally, I’d rather play as many games as possible.”

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The Kings are coming off a split home-and-home weekend series against the San Jose Sharks, who won 3-1 Saturday night at Staples Center. In the competitive Pacific Division, the Kings know they will have their work cut out once they return to play.

“You want to play games, but having time off can be good for us,” forward Ladislav Nagy said. “We get a chance to get in good practices Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Chance for us to get ready for Saturday’s game.”

Over the span that the Kings do not play, their division rivals will be busy. The Ducks and Dallas have three games each, while Phoenix and San Jose each play twice.

“We know that we have important games coming up,” Brown said of the Kings, who will play nine consecutive games against division rivals.

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Enforcer Raitis Ivanans, who broke his cheekbone in Friday’s game against San Jose, will not need surgery and could be back in the lineup for Saturday’s game.

“He has a pretty good shiner,” Coach Marc Crawford said of Ivanans, who has a black and bruised left side of the face.

“He may be able to skate later in the week. He may be doubtful for Saturday, but we will see how he progresses. The swelling has gone down a great deal. . . . He’ll have to play with a mask for a while. . . . Hopefully, he’ll be back sooner than later.”

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lonnie.white@latimes.com


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