Get yourself accustomed to seeing Jonathan Quick. A lot of him. Terry Murray hinted at this a couple weeks ago, but confirmed today that the goalie plan he had set in place during the summer, through the end of December, is now out the window. There’s a new plan: play Quick. It’s not a surprise, really, given Quick’s play, Jonathan Bernier’s somewhat-shaky play and the upcoming schedule, in which the Kings don’t play back-to-back games again until Dec. 26-27 and, three times before then, have at least two days of rest between games.
Quick has been solid throughout the season, and Bernier hasn’t exactly been weak, but there’s certainly a noticeable difference between Quick and Bernier. Quick enters tonight’s game with a 1.92 goals-against average and a .928 save percentage, while Bernier has a 3.30 GAA and a .889 save percentage. Here’s what Murray said today about the new “plan” in goal…
MURRAY: “I had it penciled in, through the start of January, and I’ve erased everything. With the schedule being what it is right now, I’m looking at Quick playing a majority of those games. I like the way, though, that Bernier is practicing, the way his game is coming together again in the drills. So I’m not going to leave him sitting there the rest of the month and not give him some opportunities. We have some games coming up that I’m going to take a look at, certainly post-Christmas. There are four (games) in five nights. We’ve got to do something there.”
To be fair, Bernier has had to adjust to something new. For the past couple seasons, he has grown accustomed to playing two or three games a week. Now, it has been roughly once a week, if that. Still, there have been flaws in Bernier’s game — particularly in terms of dealing with traffic, and rebound control — that have required some work with the goalie coaches.
MURRAY: “Kim Dillabaugh was here last week, and he and Kim have had a very good relationship the last couple years in Manchester. Billy (Ranford) goes down there too, but predominantly it is Kim who is there. So spending three days with him was good, just in reviewing some of his games and talking and technicalities and getting on the ice early. Billy is taking the goalies out early, to get some focus on the fundamentals of the game. Again, I talk about it with our forwards too. It’s a matter of 15 feet, here and there. It’s a matter of inches with the goaltender. Laterally, staying a little too deep in the net instead of coming out to the top of the crease. It’s a matter of six, seven inches. So he’s got to focus on that. Again, there’s conversations with the goalie coaches about it, and he’s working at it. He’s getting very focused on improving and getting those fundamentals down.”
It was also pointed out to Murray that the schedule, in the short term, sets up well for Quick. In January, the Kings play 10 of 13 games at home and play only one set of back-to-back games. February is brutal, but that’s getting way ahead of ourselves…
MURRAY: “I think a lot of it is going to be dictated, too, by how Bernier is going to play in the games, as we get him going back into games. If we’re seeing that player that I anticipated, then I can place him in games and give Quick that rest that we talked about in the summer time. I’m going to be very aware of how things went at the end of the year last year, as far as the number of games. The intensity of the game picks up, and I’ll try to be very aware, again, of the importance of rest as we get into the heavy part of the schedule, post-All-Star break and the middle of January.”