Evans discussed his twist on how teams can play differently in front of a back-up goalie then the number-one goalie.
“I think the players on the team feel because the other goaltender hasn’t played a lot that they want to give him the opportunity to get a feel for the game. So they better get in the shooting lanes and sure up as much as possible and help the guy out as much as possible.” Evans explained how this sometimes seems to look like they play better in front of them. “This is especially true if a guy is pulled during a game. He’s cold, doesn’t have a chance to warm-up. You want to give him a chance to get his feet under him. ”
Looks can be deceiving on the surface. It is more that the Kings know Quick better and want to give Bernier every bit of confidence to play his game, while learning the NHL. This is accomplished by tightening up for the opportunities he’s given. The more success under Bernier’s belt, the more confidence the coaching staff has to rest Quick for the long-term benefit of the team. Come a playoff birth, Quick is the number one goaltender and the Kings will need him rested and strong.
With all these defensive and goaltending benefits, it remains that the Kings are going to need to find ways to create more offense and that includes taking more shots. According to Evans, this has been preached by Murray for the past few weeks. With the loss of Kopitar and Williams, this will be magnified. This is especially true for the power-play which has been suffering as much as the penalty-kill has been flourishing.
One player that will have more opportunities to step forward is recently acquired Dustin Penner. Still adjusting to a new situation and a new team, it can be said that he will only get better as the season winds down and through any potential playoff run.
“He’s a big body upfront and can take possession in the offensive zone,” Evans believes. “He has a strong skill set on the power-play. I don’t think he’s reached the level he’s capable of playing at and that’s a good sign. And we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg. His production will go up.”
Originally brought in to play with Kopitar, he’ll have additional adjustments to make but so does the rest of the team. Like them he’ll have the opportunity to show his capabilities. With increased ice time and responsibility, Penner can really shine among the cries of Penner-Mania.
As every game continues to be of the utmost importance, the pressure was already mounting with every last game and point. Fortunately, the rest of the Western Conference is also fighting for their lives. However, the Kings do have one step above some of the teams in the fight.
Evans went on to expand on this. “Two games either way can put you in or out. One advantage the Kings do have is that they control their over all destiny. If I’m the Calgary Flames, I’m really scoreboard watching, especially if the teams above them are playing teams out of the playoff race because they need help. Where as with the Kings on the other hand, it is nice to get help if you can, but if you win the games in the situations you control, and those are the games you play in, then you are going to be fine.”