Kings’ Sutter: Quick, Bernier ‘competing’ to see who plays next


One of the biggest developments in LA’s recent surge — the Kings have won five straight and seven of eight — is who’s been between the pipes.

After a sluggish start to the campaign, Jonathan Quick has been platooning with Jonathan Beriner and, according to head coach Darryl Sutter, is now in a full-on battle for playing time.

“They’re competing against east other to see who plays the next game,” Sutter told the media Friday, prior to departing for Vancouver. “It’s not necessarily that they’re hot. They’re playing well enough to win the next game.”

Quick, the reigning Conn Smythe winner, received the lion’s share of work to start the season and was the goalie of record in nine of the first 10 games.

But after a 3-2 loss in Detroit on Feb. 10 that dropped LA to 3-5-2 on the year, Sutter shook things up.

Bernier got the call for the next two games and played well, recording a 4-1 win over St. Louis and a 2-1 win over Columbus.

That kickstarted a goaltending rotation — since the Blue Jackets win, the Kings have gone: Quick, Quick, Bernier, Quick, Quick, Bernier.

Bernier is a perfect 4-0-0 while Quick is 3-1-0 over the last eight games, and it’s the former that could be holding the advantage moving forward.

On Wednesday, Bernier stopped 32 of 33 shots in a 2-1 win over Detroit and was named the game’s first star. Afterward, Sutter was full of praise for his 24-year-old ‘tender.

“I don’t think we had much in the tank, to be honest,” he explained. “The goaltender was the difference in the game.”

This development is pretty interesting given Quick signed a monster 10-year, $58 million extension with LA in the summer.

While nobody’s suggesting there’s a Roberto Luongo-Cory Schneider-type situation at play, it’s clear Bernier is talented enough to be a No. 1 netminder.

Which begs the question — is it time for the Kings to trade Bernier?

Columbus collapse: Rangers spoil Blue Jackets’ opener

Jarret Stoll, Mats Zuccarello
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For a little more than a minute, Brandon Saad was going to be the story of the Columbus Blue Jackets’ opener. Instead, his power-play goal merely got the ball rolling on a flabbergasting finish.

The New York Rangers scored three goals in 1:17 of game time to manage a 4-2 win.

They’ve now spoiled home openers for the Chicago Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets to begin their 2015-16 season.

It might be easiest just to show you when the goals were scored, noting that the third period began with a 1-1 tie.

Brandon Saad power-play goal: 16:10 into third period (2-1 Columbus)
Oscar Lindberg: 17:24 (2-2 tie)
Kevin Hayes: 17:41 (3-2 Rangers)
Mats Zuccarello: 18:41 (4-2 Rangers)

Yikes. Zuccarello scored two of the Rangers’ goals, while a beauty by Cam Atkinson is likely long forgotten.

This post will be updated if there’s video of that staggering sequence.

Welcome back, Babs: Red Wings chase Bernier

Mike Babcock
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Mike Babcock admitted that there might be a painful transformation as he tries to fix the Toronto Maple Leafs.

His old friends made that abundantly, painfully clear on Friday.

As of this writing, the Detroit Red Wings are up 4-0 on the Buds. Justin Abdelkader just completed a hat trick with James Reimer in net, so the subplot isn’t just about Jonathan Bernier having another tough start.

The big story might just be Detroit’s varied new line of Abdelkader, Dylan Larkin (who scored his first career goal) and Henrik Zetterberg. At the moment, they’ve combined for seven points.

This post will be updated if Detroit’s tribute video to Babcock surfaces.

Really, though, this beating has been about as ugly as this blanket so far.

Here’s video of Abdelkader’s hat trick: