Word is for Saturday afternoon’s match between the visiting Vancouver Canucks and the LA Kings, Dustin Penner will still be paired up with Anze Kopitar, and Justin Williams will get to be the right-hand man of the line.
Jonathan Quick will get the nod over Jonathan Bernier. Quick has been the goalie in both encounters with the Canucks this season; he has stopped 48 of 50 shots in the Kings’ 2-1 and 4-1 wins against Vancouver.
Bernier, by the way, has faced the Canucks once in his career, winning an 8-3 contest on April Fools’ Day of last year. He had 27 of 30 saves.
Kings Coach Terry Murray doesn’t want to play mind games, he says. He’ll rebound — and not let rebounds get to him.
I see his point.
But honestly, I’d continue to play Bernier.
Let Quick stew. Or clear out his head. Whatever works for him.
More importantly, let Quick rest. Don’t want to burn the bloke out again. The playoffs are coming quic- rather fast.
Besides, Bernier needs more experience. More exposure. Take that last part as you will.
Elsewhere, it’s interesting to note that Jewels From the Crown is bitter with the LA Times’ reporting on the Phoenix game. I can see both points.
The Kings are evolving into more of a defense-first team than the 5-4 nights provided by the Gretzky era that made games played on the Sega Genesis seem real. Believe me, more people in this city have memories of the Kings from that time period. It’s like the team disappeared in a time warp and only recently resurfaced, though a few claim to have seen them beat the Red Wings in the playoffs one year. Hell, I’m still shocked when I look at team goals allowed and the Kings rank fourth in the league. Defense wins championships, they say.
And it takes guts to stand in front of the net as a winger; something the Kings have clearly lacked since … ever.
However, I would’ve written that Dustin Penner “stood still” too. More for snark for me though. Damning as his lack of shots may look, his presence in front of the net is part of what he’s been asked to do. His effort in acting as a giant road block in front of Ilya Bryzgalov in the third period resulted in a power play goal.
But it’s also a challenge to write about a sporting event for the masses when there’s not a lot of scoring. If you know what you’re writing about, you could get technical about the win, but that might turn off the masses. Or piss off some guy on the team. Or some know-it-all.
I also think the Kings have had their high expectations tempered by enough blown games that could have them end up on the golf course when the playoffs start, as the Times’ Chris Foster implies. An 8-7 division record caught my attention as well.
Yes, there are still those in the local media who view hockey as a cult sport. Cynicism and suspicion is a given in the business. “Just good enough to fill in the seats” I’ve heard colleagues mutter about other teams in my travels. And I’ve heard the same from fans too.
Enough. It’s a topic that could take an entire night. Or more. But I will leave with these pieces.
As much as anyone can armchair argue the positives and negatives of the Kings and whether they are legit contenders or pretenders, especially after weeks that seem like a rollercoaster of highs (beat the Ducks, shutout the Coyotes, a record-setting road trip) and lows (the shutout at Long Island, the drubbing to Detroit), keep in mind what they are thinking elsewhere.
From Canucks blog Nucks Misconduct:
It all starts in Los Angeles Saturday afternoon. The Kings, who you know hate our guts for eliminating them from the first round last season, are rolling again and will play us with a vengeance. Look at their stats above…another defensive team! They do not allow many goals against per game, shots against per game or power play goals against per game. Hell, their last game was a 1-0 win over the Coyotes. [They] have won 3 of their last 4 at home, with a 7-4 loss to the Wings being the anomaly. Let’s see another anomaly shall we?
After a 5-8 record in January and a loss of a playoff spot, the Kings went 8-2-3 in February to climb back in. They are currently in 5th spot in the West but 2 points away from 10th spot. It changes every day. They are in a dog fight. So here we go again: Canucks face another desperate team.
Ancient military philosopher Sun Tzu says it plainly: “On desperate ground, fight.” You tend to see the best of your soldiers when it’s all on the line.
Let’s see how the Kings emerge.