Kings: Goalie Jonathan Quick is No. 1, but who will be No. 2?
There’s a goaltending competition taking place in the Kings’ training camp, but it’s not for the starting spot.
Coach Terry Murray made it clear Saturday that Jonathan Quick will start the bulk of the games this season. Murray said Quick will play “a lot of hockey,” but not as much as he did in playing 72 games last season. That workload was too big a jump for Quick, who appeared in 44 games in 2008-09, and he wore down from physical and mental fatigue.
The backup job will go to Erik Ersberg, who lost Murray’s trust early in the season and never got back into the coach’s good graces, or to Jonathan Bernier, who was voted the most valuable player in the American Hockey League last season and has little left to prove in the minor leagues.
“There’s no grey area there. Jonathan Quick’s our No. 1 goalie,” Murray said. “I just felt at the end of the season last year that maybe he got extended a little bit playing 70-plus games. If I can get his numbers to a max of 60, say, or in the high 50s and have our No. 2 goaltender getting into the rotation on a pretty regular basis, it’s very hard to play after a couple of weeks of not playing. And if I can get one game a week out of the second goaltender, I think it would be a nice rhythm to get ourselves into.”
Quick, who set franchise records with 39 wins and 72 games played, said he wants to play every night. That’s commendable, but it’s not going to happen.
“This summer I trained as if I was going to play 72 again. If I don’t, I don’t,” he said. “I don’t think right now there’s a point in looking at the overall picture. I think right now we’re focused on training camp and getting everyone prepared.”
Bernier said he has no quarrel with Quick being selected as the regular starter.
“I respect that. He earned his spot, and he’s been tremendous for this team. He brought the team to the playoffs,” Bernier said. “I have a lot of respect for him. For me, I’ve just got to do my job and not worry about that.”
Bernier played 58 games last season for the Kings’ AHL team in Manchester, N.H., and a reduced workload would be a major adjustment for him. A few years ago he might have balked, but he seems to have matured and is willing to find the positives in the situation.
“It’s going to be a good test for me, going back from 60 games to 20 or 25,” he said. “But you never know what’s going to happen, so I’ve just got to go game by game and day by day and just do my game, what I can do. The rest, I can’t control.”
Ersberg, who has one year left on his contract at $750,000, said that after the season he and Murray discussed why he got so little playing time. “We ventilated a little bit,” he said, and if he really meant “vented,” he still made his meaning clear. “I think it was a good meeting,” he said.
“You always want to play as many games as possible, so that’s always my goal. Even if I know I’m labeled the backup at the start of the year, you always try to get more games and when you get a chance you try to play as well as you can so you can play the next game.”
Remembering to forget
Winger Justin Williams wants to remember last season -- and forget it.
Williams had an excellent start last season but missed 33 games along the way, 28 of them after he broke his leg on Dec. 28. He came back late in the season but was scratched from the lineup for the Kings’ playoff series against Vancouver.
“Every year you play you always learn something new. It doesn’t matter how old you are,” said Williams, who skated on the right side with Scott Parse and Jarret Stoll in Saturday’s second practice session.
“It’s my 10th year, and I’m trying to pick up as much as I can along the way. And also the fact I want to forget it. I want to remember the start. I want to remember how I felt early. I don’t want to remember how it ended. Clean slate. Fresh start. Work my butt off first day of camp, and I’m going to push forward through the end of the season.”
He put the summer to good use.
“I worked on getting my speed back, getting the step back that I feel I lost throughout the last couple years with these surgeries,” said Williams, who has undergone two surgical procedures on his left knee and one on an Achilles’ tendon.
“I really worked hard on getting my step back, getting my stride back, getting my quickness. And overall fitness, that was the main focus.”
Defensemen Matt Greene (shoulder), Colten Teubert (wrist) and Viacheslav Voynov (shoulder) and forward Marc-Andre Cliche didn’t practice, but Brayden Schenn, who missed rookie camp because of a sore left knee, participated in the second session at the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo.
“The first bit I was, from the knee standpoint, a little cautious,” Schenn said, “but as you keep going you get a little bit more comfortable, and I felt pretty good out there for not skating a whole lot in the past eight or nine days. For now, it’s take her day by day and hopefully get better.”
The lines in Saturday's first practice were (left to right): Ryan Smyth-Anze Kopitar-Dustin Brown; Alexei Ponikarovsky-Michal Handzus-Wayne Simmonds; Jordan Nolan-Michael Pelech-Lindon Vey; Dwight King-Andrei Loktionov-Brandon Kozun. The defense pairs were Jack Johnson-Rob Scuderi; Davis Drewiske-Peter Harrold; Alec Martinez-Jake Muzzin; Dylan King-Patrick Mullen.
The combinations in Saturday's second practice were: Scott Parse-Jarrett Stoll-Justin Williams; Kyle Clifford-Brayden Schenn-Oscar Moller; Kevin Westgarth-Brad Richardson-Trevor Lewis; Rich Clune-Corey Elkins-Bud Holloway; Zach Harnden-John Zeiler-David Meckler. The defense pairs were Drew Doughty-Willie Mitchell; Johan Fransson-David Kolomatis; Andrew Campbell-Thomas Hickey.
Players will be divided into three groups Sunday. The first session starts at 8:30 a.m. All on-ice sessions are open to the public.
-- Helene Elliott
Photo: Jonathan Quick. Credit: Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press