Kings pregame notes: Jonathan Bernier to get second straight start; Erik Ersberg to see the doctor tonight
Greetings from ... oh, wait. It's Staples Center, not Nashville or St. Louis or St. Paul ...
Jonathan Bernier, coming off a shutout of Nashville on Tuesday, will start against the Vancouver Canucks again tonight as the Kings try to reduce their magic number of six for clinching a playoff spot. Coach Terry Murray said before Thursday's game that Jonathan Quick will start against the Ducks on Saturday at Staples Center. Beyond that, who knows?
Murray said Erik Ersberg, whose back strain led to Bernier's emergency call-up Monday, was scheduled to see a doctor during Thursday's game. That means there might be an update on his status later or tomorrow ... and if he's fit to play, Bernier might go back.
Murray said he met with all three goalies separately Wednesday to explain his plans. Murray reiterated Thursday that Quick remains his No. 1 goaltender even though Quick won't face the Canucks.
"To me, it’s a great opportunity with Bernier’s performance, first of all, to reward him and let him get back in the net, and for Quicker, because of all the games that he’s started this year, this is I think a great opportunity for him to just take a couple of days of practice, focus in on a few areas, get sharp again and get back at it on Saturday," Murray said.
Murray has been adamant in saying that Quick isn't tired despite having played 4,041 minutes 4 seconds, second only to the 4,135:03 logged by New Jersey's Martin Brodeur. But what self-respecting hockey player would admit to fatigue, when the unspoken code inspires players to lace 'em up with broken bones and bloodied noses?
Murray acknowledged that during his playing days he probably wouldn't have told his coach he was tired, so he and his assistants watch Quick closely for hints of slow reactions or bad decisions, which can be induced by fatigue. Murray said he hasn't seen those signs.
"To me, I think it’s like the golfer who just plays tournaments all the time. If you’re not going to get out on the range and practice because of time or whatever the reason might be, there’s going to be areas, especially for a young guy, that are going to start to show," Murray said.
"And we know when he’s really sharp, when he’s cleaning up the pucks, he’s absorbing a lot of pucks. In the last couple of games there’s some of those rebounds coming back that he’s had when he’s right on. And this is just a chance for him to work on that area in practice."
Teammates were impressed with Bernier's poise in his 34-save shutout against the Predators on Tuesday, and Murray noticed it, too.
"It’s talent. He’s a high first-round pick and all those kids, like [Drew] Doughty, they have a special attraction to GMs’ eyes and reasons why scouts move them up so high on the draft list. It’s a skill," Murray said.
"It could be a learned skill, but Bernier has it. He has that calm attitude in the net. He’s very solid and compact in his movement. He just absorbs the puck and I think whenever you have that kind of play, players are referring to that calm attitude, it’s very contagious.
"And Quick, to me, is like that when he’s on top of things, and he’s shown that many games this year. He’s a real good calming influence on our hockey club. Can make the huge save and everybody gets reorganized and gets right back at it."
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-- Helene Elliott