The 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)