Terry Murray: Jonathan Quick is my number one goalie this year

GYI0060272819-jonathanquick-stephendunn-getty.jpgThe fun part of training camp each year is that sometimes there’s going to be goalie controversy. You go into camp having a couple of players that are about equal and then try to judge what’s best for your team based around those couple of weeks of action. One such team that was poised for potential drama was the Los Angeles Kings. With 39-game winner Jonathan Quick the incumbent starter after a tremendous season, he was due to be challenged hard by prospect netminder Jonathan Bernier who dazzled Kings fans with his play in relief at the end of last season.

Kings head coach Terry Murray, however, wants absolutely nothing to do with any potential confidence-jarring drama and put all concerns to rest right away over who his man is in goal.

“In net, it’s going to be an interesting battle. Quick is our No. 1 guy, and we’ve got Bernier and Ersberg who are going to compete very hard for the No. 2 position. Clearly the organization is not going to carry three goaltenders, so as we get through the scrimmages and into the games, they will be watched very closely by everybody in the organization.

“There’s no gray area there. Jonathan Quick is our No. 1 goaltender. He’s going to play a lot of hockey this year. I just felt, as I mentioned at the end of the season last year, that maybe he got extended a little bit last year, 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 weeks of not playing. 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.”

Having Bernier almost ready to be a full-time NHL goalie waiting in the wings is a huge luxury for the Kings. After all, if Quick stumbles this year, Bernier will be right there either in the backup role or in AHL Manchester waiting for the call. The guy who’s in a bit of an awkward position is Erik Ersberg.

Ersberg was Quick’s caddy last year and didn’t get much of a chance to provide relief given Quick played in 72 regular season games last year. Ersberg did just about as well as he could in his 11 games, posting similar numbers to what Quick did in a vastly reduced role.

In his three starts with the Kings, Jonathan Bernier went 3-0-0 and allowed just four goals in his three starts, including a 34-save shutout against the Predators. Having a cup-of-coffee debut like that sure makes it tough for fans to forget you, especially when Quick appeared to be out of gas at the end of the season and the playoffs.

(Photo: Stephen Dunn – Getty Images)

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    Sharks send Habs to their fifth straight loss

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    Make that five straight losses for the Montreal Canadiens.

    Jonathan Drouin had a goal and an assist on Shea Weber‘s power play blast, giving the Habs center a two-point night. That’s one of the few bright spots, as Montreal lost by a score of 5-2 to the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday.

    This was a battle of two teams struggling to start the new season, with each sitting on only one victory. For the Habs, that victory was back on Oct. 5 in their season opener against Buffalo.

    Since then, however . . .

    And it isn’t about to get any easier for the Habs. This was the start of a stretch that includes three games in four nights against the bruising California teams — the Sharks tonight, the Kings tomorrow, and the Ducks on Friday. It could still get worse before it gets better.

    For the Sharks, who were led Tuesday by Logan Couture‘s four-point performance and Joe Pavelski‘s first goal of the season, they end their five-game home stand on a positive note after losing three of the previous four games.

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    Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.

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    Wayne Simmonds leaves Flyers game for ‘precautionary reasons’ with lower-body issue

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    The Philadelphia Flyers earned a 5-1 win over the Florida Panthers on Tuesday, thanks to a four-goal outburst in the second period.

    And Philly forward Wayne Simmonds earned a decision over Micheal Haley in a quick fight during that middle frame, too.

    While the Flyers got the win, the news wasn’t all good with respect to Simmonds, however, as he was removed from the game for precautionary reasons because of a lower-body issue, the team announced.

    Beyond that, the Flyers said they will know more about his status by either tomorrow or Thursday. That puts a bit of a damper on the win.

    Not only is the 29-year-old Simmonds one of the toughest players in the league, unafraid to drop the gloves or throw big hits from time to time, but he’s an important part of Philadelphia’s offensive attack, as well. A productive member of the power play, he’s flirted with the 30-goal mark on three occasions while in Philly and reached that mark in each of the past two seasons.

    And he’s done that on a contract that includes an annual cap hit of just under $4 million.

    Simmonds was also off to a strong start in 2017-18 with five goals and seven points in six games.

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    Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.

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    Rangers’ losing streak continues with OT defeat vs. Penguins

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    The New York Rangers needed a win.

    Their slow start is among the surprises early this season, as the Rangers have now lost four in a row with only one win to their record through seven games so far. They’ve had trouble scoring. Mistakes at inopportune moments have been costly.

    Facing the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday, the Rangers had a brutal start and a brutal finish in a 5-4 overtime loss to their Metropolitan Division foes.

    Phil Kessel scored just 43 seconds into the game, utilizing that dangerous wrist shot off the rush to beat Henrik Lundqvist top corner. By the end of one period, it was 2-0 Pittsburgh.

    Despite a second-period comeback, with three goals in under three minutes, and taking the lead in the third period, the Rangers couldn’t hang on and the Penguins won in overtime.

    Sidney Crosby scored a crafty tying goal with only 56 seconds remaining in regulation, waiting for the Rangers defender to touch the puck negating what would’ve likely been called a hand pass on Pittsburgh before firing a no-look backhander toward the net from behind the red line. The puck deflected in off Lundqvist, helping send this one to overtime.

    Evgeni Malkin capped off a four-point night with the overtime winner.

    “Right now it’s a little bit challenging as far as putting a whole game together for us,” said Rangers coach Alain Vigneault following the game. “But this group is very accountable … and I’m very confident that if we keep doing a lot of the things we’re doing right now, we’re going to be on the right track.”

    A trio of Rangers recorded their first goals of the season. That included David Desharnais, Michael Grabner and Pavel Buchnevich, although the latter played less than 10 minutes on Tuesday, despite nearly four minutes in power play time, and of course the goal.

    The Rangers host the New York Islanders on Thursday. Another loss, and one has to wonder how hot the seat may be getting under Vigneault.

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    Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.

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    Kucherov joins elite company with hot start, but Devils defeat Bolts

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    The Nikita Kucherov Show continues.

    The Tampa Bay Lightning star forward maintained his torrid pace Tuesday against the New Jersey Devils, scoring his eighth goal of the season — in just his seventh game.

    The Bolts took the lead in the second period on goals from Kucherov and Steven Stamkos, but couldn’t hang on and ultimately lost to the Devils (how about this start for New Jersey?) by a score of 5-4 in the shootout.

    There is no denying, however, that this has been a special start for the 24-year-old Kucherov and he has joined elite company as a result.

    That’s a perfect shot on Cory Schneider.

    Read more: Kucherov’s star continues to rise

    Kucherov also added an assist on Vladislav Namestnikov‘s beautiful first-period goal. The Devils, though, completed the comeback to continue their strong start to the season, both in wins and goals for. They entered Tuesday’s contest among the league leaders in scoring and surged out to an early lead following a wild five-goal first period.

    Drew Stafford opened the scoring for New Jersey and then tied it late in the third period. Kyle Palmieri scored the winner in the shootout.

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    Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.

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