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Kings' Gaborik could make season debut Saturday

Kings' Gaborik could make season debut Saturday
"I should be good to go," says Kings right wing Marian Gaborik, shown shortly after scoring a goal against the New York Rangers last season. (Julie Jacobson / Associated Press)

Winger Marian Gaborik said he’s ready to return to the Kings’ lineup Saturday, which would be one day short of nine weeks since he suffered a broken foot when he was hit by a shot taken by Team Europe teammate Mats Zuccarello during the World Cup tournament.

"I feel good. That's the plan," Gaborik said Friday. "So … I'll have the morning skate and go from there. I should be good to go."

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Maybe not so fast. Coach Darryl Sutter left room for doubt when asked after Friday's practice if Gaborik will make his season debut. "We'll talk to him in the morning. He thinks he's ready to play. We'll just make a decision on the lineup. I'm not sure," said Sutter, who had Gaborik skating alongside Trevor Lewis and Devin Setoguchi for most of Friday's practice.

Why the holdup? "He hasn't played in nine weeks," Sutter said. "The player has to really tell you he's ready and the coaching staff has to think that way, too."

Gaborik said he'd like to see the World Cup staged again, even though he — and a few other players — were injured during the tournament. Team Europe, comprised of players from relatively small hockey nations, surprisingly made it to the tournament final but lost to Canada.

"I think it was great for hockey. I thought it was great for fans, too," he said. "Guys got hurt. I got hurt. It's unfortunate but it's just our sport. You never know what's going to happen. You don't think about getting hurt and you go out and play and represent your country or, myself, Team Europe. I think it was a great experience, other than getting hurt, obviously."

What's his line?

Sutter wasn't exactly forthcoming when asked why Anze Kopitar was at left wing instead of center during most of Friday's practice, alongside Dustin Brown and Nic Dowd. A special-teams experiment?  A way to protect Kopitar's hand, though he played Wednesday after missing five games because of an injury?

"We practice whichever way we want. We just don't have to give information to the other team through you so we make it up as we go along," Sutter said.

Sutter did say he might use Kopitar with two different sets of wingers, at least until he's more confident that Kopitar is "back on his game."

NEXT UP

VS. CHICAGO

When: Staples Center, 7:30 p.m. Saturday

On the air: TV: FS West. Radio: 790.

Update: Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews didn’t play against the Ducks on Friday at Anaheim because of an upper-body injury he suffered Wednesday. He’s questionable for Saturday’s game.  He had a goal and an assist against the Kings in Chicago’s 3-0 victory on Oct. 30 at the United Center. This is the finale of the Blackhawks’ seven-game Circus Trip. They’re 3-3.

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Twitter: @helenenothelen

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