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Kings Game 82: Ersberg to start, Quick gets to 'back away' and prepare for playoffs

April 11, 2010 | 11:29 am

Greetings from Denver before the start of a game that will determine the Kings' first-round playoff opponent.

With fifth place in the West still a possibility, Coach Terry Murray said Sunday that he will start Erik Ersberg, even though Jonathan Quick has a personal eight-game winless streak. Murray has said after the Kings' 4-3 shootout loss to Edmonton that he might bring Quick back today, but after some thought Murray decided to give Quick the day off.

That had to be a tough decision: you don't want your No. 1 goaltender going into the playoffs with three regulation losses, three shootout losses and two no-decisions down the stretch from a confidence standpoint, but is it worth playing an already overworked goalie one more time in an effort to get that win? And what if he didn't win?

Murray said he decided on the flight to Denver from Los Angeles on Saturday night that he would start Ersberg.

"It's back-to-back. It's right at the end here. I've been planning this for the last couple of weeks," Murray said. "When we get back, I don't know who we're going to play. I don't know if we're going to practice tomorrow or if we have to practice. I think it's just important now that we get this one.

"We want to win this one but also get ourselves focused on the first game of the series. And Quick is starting and I want him to have an opportunity to take the day and watch and get himself ready for the practice tomorrow or the following day and move on."

The value of playing Quick to give the goalie a chance to end his winless streak didn't carry enough weight to persuade Murray to change his plans.

"It’s more important to get him this time now just to back away, get ready mentally, get focused on the first game of the playoffs," Murray said.

He also said Michal Handzus, who stayed behind in Los Angeles for a "therapy day," did not ask for the day off. But neither did he refuse it.

Raitis Ivanans was inserted into the lineup in place of Handzus, and was to play with Jeff Halpern and Fredrik Modin. Wayne Simmonds moved to the left side with Brad Richardson and Scott Parse. 

Murray also said he would keep the defense pairs the same and that he had wanted to put Davis Drewiske and Peter Harrold in, "but I want to win this game and I'm not saying they couldn't do the job for us but I'm staying with the guys that we've been playing with through the last stretch here.

"We still have an opportunity to finish fifth. Chicago and Detroit has meaning to us obviously but we have the tiebreaker. Hopefully we can do the right stuff and I believe that going with the six guys on the back end and I’m going to go with that mindset today."

Again courtesy of the multitalented Jeremy Zager of the Kings' media relations department, here are the playoff scenarios for today:

To get the No. 5 seeding:

The Kings win to get 101 points
Nashville finished with 100 points
Detroit, currently with 100 points, would have to lose in Regulation (stay at 100 points) or OT/SO (101 points) tomorrow (Kings own tie-breaker)
 
To get 6th seed:
Kings win to get 101 points
Detroit wins to get 102 points
Nashville finished with 100 points

OR
Kings lose in OT/SO to get 100 points
Detroit loses in regulation to stay at 100 points (would finish as 7th seed)
Nashville would finish in 5th because of tie-breakers over Kings and Detroit
 
To get 7th seed
Kings lose in OT/SO to get 100 points
Detroit wins to get 102 points or loses in OT/SO to finish with 101 points (would finish as 5th seed)
Nashville would finish 6th because of tie-breaker over Kings
OR
Kings lose in regulation (finish with 99 points)
 
More later at www.latimes.com/sports

-- Helene Elliott in Denver

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