Defense leading the way

After consecutive rough games against Buffalo and Detroit, in which they gave up a total of 11 goals, the Kings have put up two shutouts and a 2-1 loss. Defenseman Matt Greene talked about the Kings’ ability to bounce back and put together three consecutive strong games.

GREENE: “I think we’ve put together a few good games now, after giving up a bunch of goals there in Buffalo. There are going to be ups and downs over an entire season, and we definitely have to cut out those five-goal games every once in a while.”

Greene also talked about his shot-blocking ability, and was asked whether it was something he prided himself on…

GREENE: “Oh yeah. If you’re not scoring goals, you might as well be keeping them out of your net. It’s a good way to stick around, and I think it helps out a ton. There’s really nothing more frustrating, for myself when I’m at the point, when I get a shot blocked. I think it gives our goalie some help, as long as you’re getting out of the way of the ones he needs to see. It’s a good attitude.”

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Armstrong update

Derek Armstrong, who has been out since Dec. 9 with concussion-like symptoms, has been skating and might be able to return on Saturday. Here’s what Terry Murray said…

MURRAY: “I think he’s very close. He has been cleared by the doctors, so it’s just a matter of getting his feet under himself and trying to get back into the lineup.”

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Purcell’s power play

After a handful of up-and-down games, Teddy Purcell arguably had his best game of the season in Saturday’s victory over Phoenix. Purcell played more than 12 minutes, as opposed to the 6, 7 and 9 minutes of his previous three games, had two assists and played extensively on special teams. He even helped the fourth line become something of a scoring threat, as Raitis Ivanans scored his second goal in three games. First, here’s what Terry Murray said regarding what he saw in Purcell’s play…

MURRAY: “(I saw) stuff that I heard about, yeah, absolutely. We saw a bit of that in the exhibition games, but to me, he’s a more effective player now than he was in training camp. I think he was feeling a lot of the, `I’ve got to do something, I’ve got to do it every shift,’ and the pressure of a young guy trying to make the hockey club. Maybe it didn’t click the right way for him, but we’re seeing a more relaxed, quicker and a faster player than I saw in training camp. And the vision that we keep hearing about, he brought that out (Saturday) night. He made a great play to Stoll on the weak side, and that’s his forte. He sees the ice, makes a play. He’s a scoring kind of a player. I hope that kind of effort (Saturday) night can help him develop and keep pushing him forward with great confidence.”

Also, here’s Purcell talking about trying to thrive in a fourth-line role…

PURCELL: “It’s one of those things where I think coach wants me to be a more complete player. That’s my role in the line I’m on right now, and I have to add those elements to my game. I think everyone knew I could play on the power play. That’s one of my strengths, so it was nice to get rewarded with a lot of opportunities (Saturday) night. For whatever reason, we were moving the puck well and reading off each other, and things went well on the special teams. … I just have to keep my feet moving and win those battles like they want me to do. I think I’ve been doing a pretty good job with it. I just have to be consistent now and not just show flashes of it. When I’m given a lot of minutes on the power play, like I was (Saturday) night, I’ve got to make sure that I’m ready for it and take full advantage of it and make use of it.”

Finally, Purcell jokes about helping to turn Ivanans into a scoring machine…

PURCELL: “It’s funny, because last year I played on his line for a couple games too, in Calgary and Phoenix, and he scored too. I’ll take that, for sure. He’s been coming up big for us, with two game winners in the last week, so he’s having a great week. I’m going to have to start taking some tips from him.”

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Greene talks about Quick

Here’s what defenseman Matt Greene said about rookie goalie Jonathan Quick, plus Greene’s thoughts on the oft-stated theory that defensemen feel more confident playing in front of certain goalies…

GREENE: “His reaction time is extremely good. It’s rare that you see goalies like him nowadays. It’s getting more and more common to see that big-bodied, butterfly style. He’s just real quick in net, and his reaction time is great. He’s been playing the puck well, so it’s been great for a guy like that to come step in.”

Question: People talk a lot about defensemen feeling more comfortable or confident in front of certain goalies. Is there a lot of truth behind that?

GREENE: “No. When a guy gets hot, he’s hot. That’s it. But we’ve got three goalies on the team right now, and they’re all NHL goalies. It’s a good problem to have, when you have three goalies who can all start. I know, speaking for the D core, we feel just as comfortable with any one of them in net. It doesn’t matter who starts the game for us. They’re going to give us a shot to win.”

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Roster situation

When Erik Ersberg is deemed ready to play, the Kings will have to make some sort of roster move this week, since Jonathan Quick was called up under emergency circumstances. Derek Armstrong (concussion symptoms) isn’t on injured reserve right now, but he’s also likely to return in the next few days. Brad Richardson (leg laceration) is on injured reserve, and for the first time today, Dean Lombardi raised the possibility that Richardson’s injury might fall under the long-term injury category. It was apparently a very freaky cut, one that prevents Richardson from wearing his skate boot without aggravating it. Sounds bizarre.

So if Quick stays with the Kings, which seems increasingly likely, a move will have to be made. Changing Richardson’s status would help, but here’s another wild card… The Kings have been very impressed with Brian Boyle’s play in Manchester, and might look for an opportunity to recall him soon and reward him. Then what happens? It should be an interesting week, off the ice.

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Murray talks about Quick

Here’s what Terry Murray said this afternoon regarding Jonathan Quick’s play, his goaltending situation in general and an update on Erik Ersberg’s status, as well. This is the answer to the question, “What will Murray do now?” But first, he talks about Quick’s recent performances…

MURRAY: “Quick has played well. Early in the first period, he had a couple good stops. He looks very confident right now. He is very confident. He’s under control, he’s really following the puck and he makes the big stop whenever he’s asked of it, especially at the end there, in the third period with the power plays. There were a couple 5-on-3s, and there’s obviously a lot of things going on in a 5-on-3 power play. There’s a lot of movement, and he’s got great awareness of what’s happening weak-side. He earned the shutout. The guys played well in front. The players did a lot of good things. I thought we blocked a lot of shots, but the goaltender got what he deserved. He earned it.”

Question: He’s starting tomorrow?

MURRAY: “Yes, he is. We’ll go back with him again. He’s got to be excited about it. I told him on the ice here (during practice) that he was going again tomorrow. He’s taking advantage of the opportunity that he’s been given, and he’s making the steps in the right direction.”

Question: How close do you think Ersberg is to returning, and what do you do when he’s ready to go?

MURRAY: “Probably after today’s practice, I would say he’s probably going to say he feels 100 percent. He’s been pain-free the last couple days and been able to do all the movement that he feels he needs to do. I think it’s just a matter of getting some timing. This practice today was important for him, to be able to find some pucks through traffic. We did a lot of flow and game-scenario situations, so I would probably suggest that he’d be fine after today. Then what do I do? Play Quick right now. He had the shutout, I’ll play him tomorrow and then we have four days of practice. We’ll evaluate things as we move forward. I don’t have a big picture for the whole thing right now. I’m just going to take a look at it as we go through the next four days of practice, after the Columbus game, and get ready for the next game.”

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Meet Jonathan Quick

For those who might not know a lot about Jonathan Quick, he’s a 22-year-old Connecticut native who was drafted by the Kings in the third round (72nd overall) in 2005 and played two seasons at UMass-Amherst before he turned pro. Quick spent the 2007-08 season at three levels, as he played 38 games for Reading in the ECHL, 19 games for Manchester in the AHL and three games for the Kings. As you might have read in the Dean Lombardi interview, it was something of a challenging first pro season for Quick, who had to deal with a couple off-ice issues in Reading.

This season, Quick had a 6-5-2 record, a 2.68 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage with Manchester before the Kings recalled him. With the Kings, he has two shutouts in five starts and has allowed eight goals in five games (13 periods) overall.

Here’s a fairly lengthy interview with Quick, done after today’s practice…
Continue reading “Meet Jonathan Quick” »

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