It goes without saying that last night’s loss in Phoenix didn’t sit well with anyone who supports the Los Angeles Kings. Goaltender Jonathan Quick had another off-night as he allowed five goals on 29 shots. Yet while he wasn’t as sharp as he can be, we can’t completely blame Quick for his lackluster outing.
For whatever reason (and this wasn’t the first time he did it this season) head coach Darryl Sutter elected to start Quick for a second-straight night. The end result: well, you saw it from last night’s game.While Quick has had off nights where he hasn’t played on consecutive nights, I think it’s time to go with a system where both Quick and backup Jonathan Berniershare duties when the Kings play on back-to-back nights. Not to sound patronizing but it does seem like a no-brainer to go said route.
In the risk of sounding bias, the Kings have two number-one goaltenders. Quick is already a proven #1 guy and Bernier certainly has the potential to be one and thus far, he has proven that it’s nice to have potential but it’s better to be effective – and that’s what Jonathan Bernier is.
So, what is the issue? Last night wasn’t the first instance where Darryl Sutter went with the same goaltender on consecutive nights and it’s hard to understand why he would do that. The Kings aren’t a team where their backup is a kid fresh out of high school who never faced a shot over 50mph. Bernier’s had plenty of time polishing his trade in junior and in the minors before joining the big club on a full-time basis. Even now, we’re not even talking about what if Bernier can do this or that. He’s already shown that he is a more than capable NHL goaltender yet he didn’t get the call last night despite being fully rested – and we’re not even talking about his obvious skill between the pipes.
Okay, so last night’s decision to start Quick may not have been a slight towards Bernier. After all, just a couple of weeks ago, it was Bernier who got two consecutive starts only to get pulled in the latter game after allowing three goals on eight shots. A terrible outing, yes but can you blame him having played less than 24 hours earlier? I didn’t think so.
While I can safely admit that the Phoenix Coyotes were the better team last night, the Kings certainly didn’t go down without a fight. They made things interesting for a while and could have very well come back to win that game. Unfortunately, soft goaltending did them in which begs the question, why can’t Coach Sutter just alternate between netminders, especially since Quick needs a little more rest than usual with his fairly recent back surgery?
While goaltending wasn’t the sole problem the Kings had last night, it was (in my mind, at least) the biggest problem and all the coaching staff needs to do is give both goaltenders a turn to play when the schedule approaches back-to-back contests.
It seems simple enough – so simple that it deserves to be put into practice. They may playing a lot better lately but there’s always room for improvement and if this is what it takes to be improve the Los Angeles Kings, then so be it. Play Quick, play Bernier and play both while giving each ample time to rest and recover. On the surface, it’s a recipe for success. Most teams would kill to have one bona fide netminder let alone two so let’s show the rest of the league that we’re not afraid to use our advantage to its fullest ability.
If using both goaltenders is what it takes to get back into the playoffs and make another run at Lord Stanley’s Mug, then I can’t see what should possibly stop the Los Angeles Kings for putting the two-goalie system into full effect.