After finally recovering from a groin muscle injury, Los Angles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick insisted he wasn’t rusty.
“If I was feeling rust, I wouldn’t have told them I was ready to go,” Quick told reporters after dispatching the Canucks 3-1 in his first game.
Initially the Kings hoped to Quick same game action at the AHL level, but a massive snowstorm created travel problems and killed that plan.
So Quick saw his first action against Vancouver in a showdown game against a tough Pacific Division rival. He had to settle in against the likes of Daniel and Henrik Sedin.
“No matter what, it’s always good to see a few shots early,” he said. “It gets you in the game. That was the case for both goalies tonight. We saw a good amount of shots early, and it got us into the game. It was a good hockey game. It was back and forth. Both teams had chances. We’re fortunate to get the two points.”
LA’s five-game losing streak added urgency to this game. Back-up goaltenders Ben Scrivens and Martin Jones hit a rough patch just as Quick was wrapping up his rehab work.
“We’ve had some games where we’ve played well, and we just didn’t catch the bounces,” Quick said. “We haven’t won in five. That’s what it was. But I don’t think ‘struggling’ is the word. We’ve had a few of those games where we’ve played really good hockey games, and we just didn’t catch the bounces. One-goal games, that’s the way it is. That happens.”
The Los Angeles Kings returned home to SoCal looking for a reversal of fortune.
They saw their five-game winning streak against the Blues end. Their current losing streak extended to five games, their worst skid since 2011.
The fill-in goaltending tandem of Martin Jones and Ben Scrivens finally faltered, underscoring the importance of Jonathan Quick’s recovery from his groin muscle injury.
“You’ve got to make some saves,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter told reporters after the game. “I mean, that’s that how you break losing streaks, that’s how you have winning streaks.”
He was none too pleased with Brenden Morrow’s power-play goal that gave the Blues a quick 1-0 lead. Morrow played a carom off the back wall perfectly and scored when Jones didn’t seal the angle.
“At some point your goaltenders have to be good penalty killers, too,” Sutter said. “And that’s two in two games where we’ve basically killed, and the puck’s off the back of the boards.”
Quick has been on the ice, working his way back from his injury. The Kings planned to send him on a rehab assignment to the AHL, but management changed its mind after a winter storm played havoc with travel.
What if Quick got stuck in a snow bank somewhere? Perhaps he can play in an ECHL game or two closer to home to get back into game mode.
Sutter also suggested his key players needed to take responsibility for reversing the current slide. Perhaps the lopsided 5-0 score Thursday night will jar the troops.
“I’m not into that high-low stuff,” he said. “I’m not into the yelling, screaming part of it, but there is a leadership part of it that has to have full direction in it.”
Defenseman Drew Doughty said all the right things afterward.
“When our team is playing with confidence throughout the whole lineup we’re an amazing team and we have to remember that,” he told reporters. “We’re playing like we’re scared out there. Like we’re scared to try things, that we’re scared to do the right things and that’s why we’re losing and that’s why we got smoked tonight.”
The answer is not Jonathan Quick. He has been the third-best goaltender on the Los Angeles Kings this season.
He is 10-5-0 this season, but with just so-so ratios: 2.35 goals-against average and .905 save percentage.
Ben Scrivens opened the season as the back-up. When Quick suffered his groin muscle injury, Scrivens moved into the starting role.
Overall he is 7-2-4 with a 1.56 goals-against average and a .943 save percentage.
Then Scrivens lost the starting job to rookie Martin Jones, who is 4-0-0 record with a 0.74 GAA and .974 save percentage.
That is quite a start to his NHL career.
“I try not to think about that too much,” Jones told the Los Angeles media. “Just make sure that I’m ready when I’m called upon. Just try and give these guys a chance to win, we have a great team here. It’s not like I’m getting called upon to steal games here. It’s give these guys a chance to win, a couple big saves here and there, and these guys are playing great.:
This sure beats playing in the AHL, right?
“Yeah, I’m trying to enjoy it as well,” he said. “I want to make sure I’m ready to play whenever I’m called upon, but try and enjoy it a little bit as well.”
Quick hopes to return by the end of the month so he can remain a candidate for Olympic competition. But he has been this team’s third-best goaltender.
Will coach Darryl Sutter ease him back into the competition? Will he keep riding the hot goaltender, even if that player is not named “Jonathan Quick”? Will the Kings try to move either Scrivens or Jones for another commodity?
These are pleasant dilemmas to wrestle with.
Los Angeles Kings goaltender Ben Scrivens has the next four to six weeks to raise his NHL profile.
Scrivens saw only sporadic action for the Kings since arriving in the Jonathan Bernier deal. He arrived with modest credentials, having won just 11 games for the Toronto Maple Leafs while shuttling between the AHL and NHL.
But with Jonathan Quick shelved by a significant groin muscle strain, Scrivens suddenly became The Man in goal for LA.
He won his first two starts, allowing just two goals in the process.
“It’s great playing behind these guys,” Scrivens told reporters following the Kings. “They’re a very disciplined team on the defensive side of the puck, and it makes my job easier. So you’re just forced to try and stops the shots you should, and make a couple that you shouldn’t, and just give the team a chance. It’s been a real pleasure for me playing behind these guys.”
His road trick got a rocky start when he replaced the injured Quick in overtime in Buffalo and suffered the shootout loss.
“Obviously it has been kind of a crazy trip with Quickie going down, but you’ve got to be ready,” Scrivens said. “Two games is great to get those wins, but we’ve got a lot of work to do, and you can’t . . . let off. You’ve got to try and maintain some consistency in your game, so that’s the ongoing challenge that I’m facing right now, is to try and replicate over and over.”
Goaltender Jonathan Quick is a special commodity for the Los Angeles Kings. He is an acrobatic talent who thrives on a heavy workload.
When he gets rolling – and he has in the playoffs, twice -- he can steal games. He boldly challenges shooters and then relies on his defensemen to cover his backside.
This is not a playing style that brings much comfort for coaches, but it works for Quick.
But he could be out of the nets for a long, long time after suffering a groin and/or hamstring muscle injury. The Kings should know later today how much time he will miss.
“Obviously, it didn't look good,” general manager Dean Lombardi told the Los Angeles Times. “The trainers told me walking out, it was not good. They don't know until they get in there and find out what it is, nobody knows.”
Newcomer Ben Scrivens gets the first crack at replacing Quick. He came from the Toronto Maple Leafs as part of the Jonathan Bernier trade.
Scrivens has appeared in just five Kings games, posting a 1.89 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage. He posted decent ratios (.269, .915) as a back-up in Toronto last season.
His excellent trade record at Cornell University and for the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League gives Kings fans some hope that he can hold the fort. Goaltender Martin Jones has arrived from the AHL to offer another alternative.
The St. Louis Blues have earned a couple of 2-1 victories over the Kings and suffered a 1-0 loss at Los Angeles. You can expect more of the same for the rest of the series.
“If you look at the series, 5-on-5 is so tough,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter told reporters after Saturday night’s game. “There are a lot of little battles going on that only the players appreciate or understand. It’s pretty much what we said at the outset.”
The forecast for this series was low-scoring games. Blues goaltender Brian Elliott and Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick both played very well down the stretch for their defensive-minded teams.
“Do your homework before the series,” Sutter said. “The two teams are very even. Gave up the fewest shots in the conference, one and two. Both goaltenders – everybody understands who they are and what they are.”
These games are coming down to one bounce, one break or one breakdown.
“I think it’s great, because you can’t take a shift off,” Kings winger Justin Williams told reporters. “You take a shift off, it could be the difference in a game. Your mind needs to be ready every single time you get on that ice, because little plays turn into big plays in series like this, and we got big plays out of our goaltender tonight.”
Both teams are trying to fight through the defensive gridlock.
“There’s not much for goals, and you can’t get frustrated by it,” Sutter said. “Your top guys can’t get frustrated and start playing their own individual game, a turnover or stretch it out. That’s basically how we’re trying to play.”
Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter wasn’t surprised when the Dallas Stars blitzed his team with four third-period goals Tuesday night.
“Not really,” he told reporters after the game. “We turned the puck over pretty regularly tonight. I think eventually it got us.”
The Stars victimized the Anze Kopitar again and again during the 5-1 loss.
Here was Sutter’s takeaway from that: “(We must) get our top players to play better. Unfortunately some of them have not played very well against Dallas this year when you break it out.”
Kopitar held his group accountable for the fiasco.
“We didn’t really play our game in the first two, and then the third was just a terrible period for us,” he told reporters. “Our line can’t get scored on four times in one period. It definitely wasn’t a good period.
“For sure, we’re going to talk about it and put it behind us after that. With the schedule that we have, we can’t really look back too much. But we can’t just forget about this period. We’ve got to address it. A period like this, it’s unacceptable. Everybody knows within this room, so we’ve got to be a whole lot better on the next game.”
What went wrong?
“We just were making too many turnovers,” Kopitar said. “A team like they have, and the skill that they possess, they’re going to capitalize on that, and they did.”
It'll be interesting to watch the fallout from this game. Will Sutter shuffle his top lines? Will Jonathan Bernier get more work goal in place of Jonathan Quick, who allowed all five goals Tuesday?
Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick has pretty good lately, posting a 4-3-1 record with a 1.99 goals-against average and a .916 save percentage in his last eight games.
But he still finds himself in a time share with Jonathan Bernier, who ranks second in the NHL in goals-against average (1.77) and fifth in save percentage (.927).
After Quick beat Edmonton Saturday, Kings coach Darryl Sutter declined to say which goaltender would start Sunday against the Ducks.
“Doesn’t matter,” Sutter told reporters Saturday. “Keep them fresh. There’s no issues, right? Our schedule says that you need two goalies that are fresh. We can take that from teams that are ahead of us in the league, to be quite honest . . . Chicago and Anaheim. So why not do what they do?”
Sutter chose Quick to start against the Oilers even though Bernier shut out the Minnesota Wild in the game before.
“We trust them both,” Sutter said. “We have to do it that way. We want them both to be consistent and we'll definitely need them both.”
Bernier is pushing Quick to regain his brilliant Stanley-Cup winning form of the season before. “It's a little bit of a gut-check time,” Kings goaltending coach Bill Ranford told the Los Angeles Times. “He realizes he's got to elevate his game another level.”
Quick struggled in his recovering from back surgery, a process delayed by the NHL lockout.
“Mentally, it's just been a grind for him this year,” Ranford told the Times. “With the surgery, your whole routine of what you do to prepare for the season is out the door. You go probably five full months, six, without a serious practice, so the way he has prepared in the past was out the door, and I think it's worn on him.
“And the schedule hasn't allowed for a lot of maintenance days, and I think that's been tough too. So you're trying to fix things not only physically but mentally in a very tiny window.”
The Los Angeles Kings piddled through the first one-sixth of this abbreviated season, leaving fans to wonder just how interested they are in defending their Stanley Cup.
They looked like a mess during their 7-4 loss to the Anaheim Ducks. They allowed two (Jonathan) Quick goals necessitating a change in the net. Alas, things did not improve on Jonathan Bernier’s watch. The Kings made one defensive blunder after another to facilitate the Ducks' route.
The Kings (2-3-2) sank to 14th place in the Western Conference. Only the aging Calgary Flames have earned fewer points this season.
What’s wrong with these guys?
“We’ve let ourselves down and shot ourselves in the foot by poor defensive play,” winger Justin Williams told the LA Kings Insider. “Right at the start of the game – for whatever reason we’ve been having tough times starting games – we’ve been getting behind early and trying to battle back. Once we do get back, we seem to just relax a little bit. We’re a much better team than we’re showing, and it’s extremely disappointing at this point to see where we are.”
Team captain Dustin Brown offered a more blunt assessment of his team’s play against the Ducks.
“I think we should use this game as a wake up call,” he said. “We got our asses kicked. We’ve got to use that as motivation now to be better.”
Los Angeles heads out on the road to face Columbus, Nashville, Detroit and St. Louis, so things won’t get any easier for the Kings.
The defending Stanley Cup champions faced quite a clean-up challenge after their season-opening loss.
After the joyous celebration of their banner raising, the Kings staggered to a 5-2 loss to the visiting Chicago Blackhawks.
Here are just some of the issues facing this team one game into the 48-game sprint:
Perhaps a couple of hard practice days – combined wit Kopitar’s return – will get the Kings back on track.
While Jonathan Quick stars in the Stanley Cup playoffs for the Los Angeles Kings, Jonathan Bernier cools his heels as his seldom-seen back-up.
Once upon a time Bernier was slated to become LA’s goaltender of the future. But Quick had other ideas. When he matured into one of the NHL’s elite netminders this season, Bernier was limited to 16 appearances.
Once the postseason ends, teams seeking a new No. 1 goaltender will target Bernier. Although the Kings don’t have to move him -- Bernier is a year away from restricted free agency – his trade value is at its peak.
With both Martin Jones (.919 save percentage for Manchester) and Jeff Zatkoff (.920 save percentage) showing well in the AHL, the Kings have internal options for the back-up role. The time seems right to move Bernier.
The Tampa Bay Lightning desperately need a new goaltender for the long haul. “My preference is to go with a little bit of a younger guy that maybe has a little less experience and can step up and play well for us now,” Lightning GM Steve Yzerman told the Tampa Bay Times.
(That was his way of saying “no thanks” to the Vancouver Canucks regarding Roberto Luongo.)
Tampa Bay had Mike Smith but failed to develop him. Smith went on to star for the Phoenix Coyotes.
This season 900-year-old Dwayne Roloson finally fell apart and the team had no workable Plan B.
Lightning director of amateur scouting Al Murray worked for the Kings when that team drafted Bernier. He knows this is a star in the making. Tampa Bay has two first-round picks in this draft, No. 10 and No. 19, so it can assemble an appropriate trade package.
Columbus and Toronto are two other teams looking to upgrade in goal, but both could look at veterans instead. Luongo, Tomas Vokoun and Josh Harding are among the established goaltenders up for grabs.
The big-budget Los Angeles Kings are threatening to miss the playoffs.
How could this be? This team has tons of talent. It already made a coaching change, from nice guy Terry Murray to taskmaster Darryl Sutter.
Jonathan Quick has been exceptional in goal. The addition of goal scorer Jeff Carter gave the team a second offensive line to support the Anze Kopitar line, with Justin Williams and Dustin Brown on the wings.
And yet L.A. somehow lost at Columbus and then blew an opportunity to win at Detroit against the depleted Red Wings. The Kings allowed two goals in the final with two goals in the final 4:02 in their come-from-ahead loss.
Center Mike Richards must play better. He made some epic mistakes at Motown.
“We need our big centermen,” Sutter told reporters. “We talked again this morning. You need your centermen to be dominant players in the middle of the ice . . . Kopi and Mike and Jarret (Stoll), they’ve all got to be major contributors.”
Defenseman Drew Doughty also must play better. He and Rob Scuderi also suffered breakdowns in their own end of the ice.
Scuderi told Los Angeles Kings Insider that his team needs to sustain their late leads.
“It’s something that we’ve been good at for a couple years now,” he said. “I think we had a game vs. Phoenix, earlier this year, and this one. Those are two games and, you look at it now and we gave up three points in those two games. We would like to have those right now.”
The Kings visit Chicago next, facing a Blackhawks team that has won four of their last five games.