Jonathan Quick is the Kings’ No. 1 goalie. Terry Murray said so in the summer of 2010, before the start of training camp last season, throughout last season, in the middle of this summer and at the start of this training camp. Then again… Murray added a little wrinkle last week, when he said that Quick would “start the season” as the No. 1 goalie. Murray added yet another wrinkle today when, for the first time, he said he would not map out a strict schedule for Quick and Jonathan Bernier, as he did at the start of last season, and would lean toward playing the hot hand in goal. In other words, Quick is the No. 1 goalie on Oct. 1, but check back on Nov. 1.
This could turn out to be a very interesting subplot to the season. Or, if Quick starts this season the way he started last season — quite brilliantly — it could turn out to be a complete non-story. For now, though, Murray certainly seems to be leaving the door cracked open for Bernier. Last season, Quick finished with a 2.24 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage. Bernier clocked in at 2.48 and .913 and, from mid-January on, Bernier allowed two or fewer goals in nine of his 11 starts. Here’s what Murray said today, beginning with when he was asked about having the enviable problem of essentially having “two No. 1 goalies.”
MURRAY: “I have one No. 1 goaltender. Jonathan Quick is the No. 1 goaltender. Jonathan Bernier is a goaltender in waiting. I was real happy with his second half of the year. He played some huge games. In fact, I think he got points in every game that he played after the All-Star break. He’s starting to get his feel in the NHL. He’s moving in the right direction, understanding the shooters and the pace of the game now. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens, but Jonathan Quick is our No. 1 guy.
“Last year, at this time, I had looked at the schedule and penciled in the goaltenders until Christmas. `This is the game you’re going to get.’ I didn’t identify those, sitting down with the goaltenders and talking about it, but I followed my plan. I didn’t do that this year. I think I pigeonholed myself a little bit. I want to get away from that. I’m going in with a plan to play both goaltenders. They’re both, I know, going to be real competitive. They all want to play every night. So we’ll just take it from there and play the games.”
Question: So it sounds like you’re saying that you go into the season with Quick as your No. 1, but you will also go with the hot hand…
MURRAY: “That is what I’m saying. Quick is our No. 1 guy and he came out of the gate last year and he was great. Every game he played, he was outstanding. We know how important every game, every point is in this league. Games in the first quarter as just as important, point-wise, as the second quarter. So I’m going to go with the guy that is playing really well. Quick will be the starting goaltender coming out of the training camp, and that’s how we will deal with it as we move forward.”