EL SEGUNDO – Pavol Demitra has scored the big goals, Mathieu Garon has made the big saves and Mattias Norstrom has patrolled the blue line with tremendous success, but if a vote was to be taken to determine the Kings’ first-half MVP, Eric Belanger would get significant support. Belanger, who has long been one of the Kings’ best defensive forwards, has developed an offensive flair this season, which is why Belanger and the Kings are being cautious about his groin injury. “He’s on the puck more,” Murray said. “He’s quicker, he’s on the puck and there’s more battle in his game. The first thing Luc will tell you is, ‘Well, the coach is using me more,’ and the first thing the coach will tell you is that the reason I’m using him more is that he’s doing those things. The player always says, ‘Play me more and I’ll play better,’ and the coach always says, ‘Play better and I’ll play you more.”‘ Robitaille, who is one goal from tying Marcel Dionne’s franchise record of 550, has said he simply needed time to play his way into shape after missing nine games with a broken bone in his leg. “I don’t know what the reason is,” Murray said. “Put it this way: I stand behind my reason to take him out, and I think there’s reason to play him more now. That’s always how we’ve operated. You earn your ice time, and Luc has earned his ice time.” Rich Hammond, (818) 713-3611 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson “From the perspective of setting a date (for his return), it’s hard now,” Belanger said, “but if it keeps progressing the way it is now, I’d probably say after the road trip. “Every day is better. It’s been a progression.” Injury report: Pavol Demitra (leg bruise) will miss a second consecutive game tonight. There is little change in the status of the Kings’ other nine players, although coach Andy Murray indicated that both Jeff Cowan (groin) and George Parros (ankle) were possibilities to play tonight. Murray said the Kings have had trouble determining when and how Demitra got hurt, because they can’t find any obvious incident on the game tape. X-rays revealed only a bruise. He’s back: Luc Robitaille, who was benched for three games last month by Murray because of his perceived substandard play, is enjoying a resurgence. Robitaille has played at least 16 minutes in each of the last three games. He scored two games and has had a handful of other quality scoring chances. Tonight’s game against the Mighty Ducks will mark the fifth consecutive game Belanger has missed with the second-degree strain, which is the second-most serious of the three categories. The Kings hoped Belanger might return for a two-game trip to Boston and Buffalo late this week, but that now seems unlikely. Belanger skated Sunday morning for the first time and said he felt good.