The Los Angeles Kings have a problem that they haven’t been faced with for quite a while. No, it’s not a goaltending controversy. Deciding between Daniel Taylor or Dan Cloutier for who should be the tender to “lead” your team to defeat is not the kind of controversy I’m talking about. This time, it’s a positive controversy. The Kings have not one, but TWO goaltenders who, for the moment, can be considered legitimate contenders for the #1 spot.
That’s right, you read that correctly. The Kings have two competative goaltenders for the first time in… ever? With only one relatively weak spell for a bit in the middle of the season, Jonathan Quick has been a rock solid goaltender, and frankly was robbed of a spot in the all-star game this season. He’s posting impressive numbers, including 2.23GAA and .917 sv %, which is only a bit of the picture. With few exceptions, Quick has kept the Kings in the game time after time. His big saves are coming at great times, and they’ve done an excellent job of building off his strong stops.
On the other hand, the Kings have Jonathan Bernier. He struggled a bit early in the season, and his numbers reflect that to be sure. His 2.56 GAA and.908 sv % reflect that slow start, but in recent games, he has become rock solid, posting a .943 sv % in the past eight games, including two shutouts. Those are the kind of numbers that allow Terry Murray and the rest of the team to put their faith in his skills, and not grip their sticks so tightly that the rest of their game suffers.
So who is going to be the keeper moving forward? Well according to Terry Murray, Quick is still the #1, despite a weak showing against Detroit in his last start. Quick has also received a vote of confidence from Jonathan Bernier, after the last game, when he made the fairly obvious point to Rich Hammond:
Obviously any goalie would want to play more. For me, it’s not something I focus on. Quick and I are here to win some hockey games. Quick is number one and he’s won some tremendous hockey games for us. … I feel much better than the beginning of the season. I think it’s just going to be better every game. For me, I just want to give a good chance for my team to win and a game this late in the season.
The decision has been made for the next game against Vancouver tomorrow, but what does the future hold? That’s the real question facing the Kings now, and the remainder of this season will be very telling. Who do you think is in the hot seat?