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KINGS NOTEBOOK: NORSTROM HAS OWN LAYAWAY PLAN.

Byline: Roger Phillips

When it comes to quantifying Mattias Norstrom's value to the Kings, statistics aren't much help.

Rob Blake's defense partner entered Saturday night's game against the Pittsburgh Penguins with a grand total of one goal and three assists.

But according to statistics provided by the NHL, Norstrom has 115 hits, second to Nashville's Bob Boughner (119) among defensemen in the league, fourth among all players. Detroit's Darren McCarty (136) and New Jersey's Bobby Holik (131) are Nos. 1 and 2 on the hit parade.

``I think I realize the role I have on this team,'' Norstrom said. ``When I play out there, I try to play physical. It's not like I'm running around looking for hits. But if I can, I try to take the body.''

As for his negligible offensive statistics, Norstrom says it's because ``ever since I've been here and even in Sweden, I've been a stay-at-home defenseman. If the team has success, I have success. It's great to score goals. But it's not something I miss.''

One who got away: During the 1993-94 season, center Robert Lang, then of the Kings, went on an end-to-end rush and tucked the puck into the net against the New York Rangers for his first NHL goal.

The Kings were predicting big things for the Czech native, who had been their seventh-round choice in the 1990 draft, but things never worked out for him in Los Angeles.

By the 1996-97 season, Lang was back playing in his native land, but last season, he returned to the NHL, first in Boston, then in Pittsburgh, with a stop in between to win a gold medal for the Czech Republic at the Winter Olympics in Nagano.

Lang came into the game as the Penguins' third-leading scorer and scored against the Kings to give him 18 goals this season and 30 points.
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Title Annotation:SPORTS
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jan 17, 1999
Words:309
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