Kings players along with the coaching staff were available to the media Tuesday and Hammer got some great quotes from head coach Terry Murray on the series, the season and everything else.
I thought his most telling remarks were regarding the goaltending situation.
“Maybe (I) played (Quick) a little too much down the last month. But at that point, I had already made a commitment to him, and maybe had backed away, a little too far, from Ersberg being able to jump in and get some rhythm to his game and give us those solid games that would have spelled relief for Quick. And I thought about that, long before we got to the end of the year."
MAYBE you played Quick too much? MAYBE you backed too far away from Ersberg? The season's over now. Let's be real here. Stats don't lie. Read my take after the jump...
First, let's talk Quick. Great. He set a franchise-record with 39 wins but he started 72 games! 72 games?! Only three goaltenders played as many games as Quicker: Martin Brodeur, Mikka Kiprusoff and Henrik Lundqvist. Quick won't ever be confused with any of those three.
I can see why Kings fans were excited about Quick. We haven't seen league-average goaltending in L.A. since the 2001-02 season and Felix Potvin. But what exactly did Quick do to earn such loyalty from Coach Murray? He provided average to below-average goaltending and actually played worse than he did a year ago. His GAA and SV% numbers both went in the wrong direction. His 2.54 GAA (15th) was slightly up from 2.48 in 2008-09; his .907 SV% (31st) was down from .914%.
He had a fantastic January, where he went 10-3 with a 2.31 GAA and .919 SV% that earned him a spot on the USA Olympic team. After that, it was all downhill and Quick became below-average but the Kings rode him even more. Whether you want to blame fatigue, the Olympic break or the birth of his first child; Quick wasn't the same in the final months. He never looked comfortable, his angles were off, he let in a bunch of soft goals and his confidence was shot.
"I think now that he has showed his level of play, and that he is a No. 1 goaltender, first of all that’s very important. Now that is settled, and there will be no discussion about it next year going into the training camp. He’s our guy. He’s our No. 1 goaltender."
OK. So Coach is really going to ignore Quick's self-destruction in the final two months of the season. I'm pretty sure the Kings made a point of establishing Dan Cloutier as their No. 1 goaltender going into training camp a few years ago and that didn't work out too well. Based on what Jonathan Bernier is doing in Manchester this year; the number one job needs to be an open competition. Keep in mind that when Jonathan Quick was called up two seasons ago; it was basically a coin-flip between the two.
"So (Bernier) is going to be there battling for that position, for that No. 2 job. So we’ll see how that shakes out. Again, I’m not going to have three goaltenders around."
Which leads me to Erik Ersberg. Why didn't Terry Murray play this guy more?! This may come as a shock to Kings fans but Ersberg numbers are nearly identical to Quick. He posted a 2.40 GAA and a .906 SV% for the season. In the seven games that Ersberg started this year: 3-3-1 record with a 2.43 GAA and .911 SV%. If you throw out the early season 7-0 blowout loss to Atlanta, where Ersberg gave up four goals on seven shots in relief of Quick; his overall numbers are stellar: 2.07 GAA and .921 SV%. He's proven over his three seasons in Los Angles that he's a capable backup goaltender. Now whether Terry Murray or Kings fans are willing to admit it is another story. With Bernier pretty much a lock for next year's team; it'll be tough for Ersberg to stay in L.A. but hopefully Dean Lombardi can find E.E. a spot on an NHL roster somewhere.