Jonathan Quick recorded a shutout after making 43 saves in the Kings’ 1-0 shootout victory Thursday over the St. Louis Blues. It turns out he tied Kelly Hrudey for the second-most saves in a shutout in Kings history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, which keeps track of these things. Quick holds the record for the most saves in a Kings shutout with 51 in a 5-0 blanking of the Detroit Red Wings on Dec. 13, 2010. Quick’s victory was his 37th in a shootout, fourth-most among active goalies. He is 37-22 in shootouts and has stopped all but 61 attempts in 209 shots.
Here are the first few paragraphs of Thursday’s game story:
The Kings stole a game Thursday night at Staples Center. They reached into the St. Louis Blues’ pockets and swiped a 1-0 victory in a shootout that might have eluded them if not for a bounce here or there or a shot here or there or any number of reasons.
They committed robbery and presented goaltending Jonathan Quick with his 32nd career shutout, tying him with Rogie Vachon for the franchise record. Or more to the point, Quick helped them extend their winning streak to three in a row with a flawless performance.
“It’s nice, obviously,” Quick said of matching Vachon’s shutout mark. “It’s humbling to be put into that category. At the same time, it’s a team effort. It takes 20 guys. It’ll be my name that goes next to the shutout, but it’s 100 percent the group that went out there today.”
Kings center Jeff Carter scored the only goal in a shootout, after Quick stopped all 43 shots he faced in 60 minutes of regulation play plus a five-minute overtime period. Blues goalie Brian Elliott faced only 18 shots, but couldn’t stop Carter, the first shooter in a three-round shootout.
Here are three things that stood out:
First, that Quick guy can play a little bit. He he was under siege for extended periods and still blanked the Blues. He even showed a little fire when he got into a scrap with the Blues’ Alexander Steen and was penalized for roughing in the second period. Above all, he denied the Blues in a three-round shootout.
Second, the Blues remain a difficult team for the Kings to play. The teams play similar styles, keeping each other at arm’s length. There aren’t a lot of scoring chances in most games between the teams. The Blues were the more dangerous team with the puck Thursday, however. “They’ve obviously got a recipe for success and have two Cups in the last three years to prove it,” Blues captain David Backes said. “That being said, we’ve got our own personnel and strengths to produce wins.”
Third, the Kings’ power play unit isn’t very good. The Kings went 0 for 4 with the man-advantage and are 1 for 18 in five games to start the season. That’s a discouraging sign for a team whose struggles to score while skating at even strength are well known. Power play goals take off the pressure, creating a comfort zone that enables a team to rely on its special teams to score goals at key points in games. It’s not as if scoring power-play goals is an easy trick, it’s simply an easier way to score.
Here are my first few paragraphs from Tuesday’s game story:
“The Kings didn’t actually score on every shift of Tuesday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers at Staples Center. It only seemed like it. The Kings didn’t create a scoring on every dash down the ice against the hopelessly overmatched Oilers. It only appeared to be the case.
“There will be nights when the puck doesn’t settle into the back of the net as easily or as often as it did during the Kings’ 6-1 rout of the Oilers. Defending their Stanley Cup championship certainly will be more difficult than it was Tuesday, when the Kings seemed to be skating downhill.
“After all, the St. Louis Blues visit Staples Center on Thursday.
“The Blues are one of the NHL’s elite teams.
“Clearly, the Oilers are not.”
Here are three thoughts about the Kings’ blowout victory:
First, that Tanner Pearson, Jeff Carter, Tyler Toffoli line continues to roll. Pearson had two goals and an assist. Carter scored a goal and added an assist and Toffoli had a goal and an assist. Pearson has a team-leading four goals, Carter has three and Toffoli has two for the Kings, who have scored 12 in four games to start the season.
Second, Darryl Sutter said he would rather had gotten “the cob” for goalie Jonathan Quick than win his 100th game as the Kings coach. Cob? Well, it’s a folksy term for shutout since an ear of corn looks like a zero if you turn it the right way. Have we mentioned Sutter is a farmer back home in Viking, Alberta?
Third, the Oilers are a poor team and weren’t very competitive, which marked the second consecutive pushover the Kings faced, including their 4-1 rout of the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday. Things get tougher with the arrival of the St. Louis Blues on Thursday. The Blues will hit back. They will score and play with the sort of grit and determination that you would expect from a team that believes it can make a deep playoff run. Don’t expect a third straight one-sided result in the Kings’ favor, in other words.
The Kings took a 4-1 victory from the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday at Staples Center, their first win after a couple of clunkers to start their Stanley Cup defense. Jeff Carter, Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli, aka That 70s Line, each had a goal and an assist. Anze Kopitar scored his first goal of the season and Martin Jones made 29 saves.
Here are three things about the game, which was a step in the right direction:
First, That 70s Line is carrying the Kings so far, having accounted for all but one of the team’s six goals to start the season. That’s good and bad. It’s good because you have to figure Kopitar and Marian Gaborik will begin to produce more, especially once the third member of the line is solidified. Or as close to it as it gets with Darryl Sutter as coach of the Kings. Kopitar and Gaborik started out with Dustin Brown, but Sutter switched Justin Williams onto their line for Saturday’s game against the Arizona Coyotes and kept Williams there for Sunday’s game against Winnipeg.
Second, Kopitar pulled no punches when asked about his line’s lack of production. Said Kopitar: “It can be better. Definitely a step in the right direction. I think we were moving the puck better. We had some zone time and we were creating some chances. But there is definitely room for improvement and we’re going to work on it.”
Third, Jones continues to amaze as Jonathan Quick’s backup. Nothing seems to faze him, not that the Jets represented an especially difficult challenge. Said Toffoli of Jones: “That guy’s a machine. That guy does it all. He’s such a great goalie.”
Kings coach Darryl Sutter had this to say about pulling Jonathan Quick from Wednesday’s loss to the San Jose Sharks and replacing him with backup Martin Jones to start the third period of a game the team trailed 4-0: “I didn’t pull Quick because of his performance. Like I said, I don’t like pulling goalies in the first game of the year, or ever, but at that point in the game, it’s not Jonathan’s deal, it’s Jonesy’s deal.”
FYI: Quick gave up four goals on 27 shots.
Here are the first few paragraphs from my game story:
“The Kings raised their second championship banner in three seasons to the Staples Center rafters Wednesday night. Team captain Dustin Brown held the Stanley Cup high overhead as a roaring sellout crowd bellowed like it was June 13 all over again.
“Then somebody had to go and spoil a perfectly good party by dropping a puck onto the ice and starting a new season. Then the San Jose Sharks had to go and stick the puck in the back of Jonathan Quick’s net. Again and again and again and again.
“Tommy Wingels scored two goals and the Sharks earned a very small measure of revenge after last season’s playoff ouster at the hands of the Kings, taking a comprehensive 4-0 victory in the regular-season opening game for both teams.”
Here are three impressions about an uneven opening game:
First, the Kings turned in clunkers after each of their championship banner-raising ceremonies. They have been outscored 9-2 in losses to the Sharks on Wednesday and to the Chicago Blackhawks two seasons ago. So, what’s the answer? Not winning a Stanley Cup? Not celebrating it? Maybe the Kings could have the Lakers come in and talk to them about how to handle the distractions of such a ceremony. Then again, there aren’t many (any?) Lakers left who remember what that experience is like.
Second, the Kings have miles to skate before they can even think about recreating their incredible run to the Cup last spring. It was a long, slow process last season and it will be again in 2014-15. Patience is the order of the next few days and weeks, and maybe even months. Fans, players, coaches and reporters must realize it’s a process.
Third, the Sharks are pretty good. They’ve been humiliated by their playoff loss to the Kings last spring and they have plenty to prove this season. Don’t expect them to fold at every opportunity. Their collapse from a 3-0 series lead in the first round last spring was quite a pratfall, one they’ve been reminded of for, oh, probably every day since April.
Will the Kings be healthy enough to lead the playoff race?
Goalie Jonathan Quick and forward Kyle Clifford underwent wrist surgeries and Jarret Stoll had hip surgery during the offseason, signs of the toll a grueling regular season and an extended playoff run can exact on professional athletes. All three are sound and will begin the regular season on schedule. Injuries are always a concern, particularly for a team that relies on its physical play to win games. The Kings appear to have the depth to withstand various routine bumps and bruises in the season.
Luck plays a great role in a team’s success. Good teams avoid injuries, or at the very least they manage to use their depth to patch together a lineup that’s good enough to keep winning. There’s not a big drop-off. Bad teams get injured and there aren’t enough quality players to fill the void. The Kings appear to have plenty of depth, both on their roster in Los Angeles and at their American Hockey League team in Manchester, N.H. Any questions about the organization’s depth should have been answered by the likes of Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli during the playoffs last season.
The Kings took their time with goaltender Jonathan Quick after he underwent offseason wrist surgery. Quick didn’t play in the Kings’ first four exhibition games before playing in their final three during a trip to San Jose, Colorado Springs and Las Vegas. He’s expected to be in goal for Wednesday’s season-opener Wednesday against the Sharks.
“I don’t think it was progress,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said of Quick’s progress from the start of training camp last month. “I think he was good from the start and our plan was exactly what happened. He wanted to play the whole second game in Colorado Springs and I just thought with the (high) altitude and all that, that I was just more concerned with the third period. So, then he was fine with that, and he was good from the start.”
There is no timetable for Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick’s exhibition debut, at least not one for public consumption. Quick, coach Darryl Sutter and the team’s medical staff will determine when Quick’s surgically-repaired wrist is sound enough for him to play.
“We’ve got a lot of minds put together trying to figure it out,” Quick said. “We’ll figure it out. We’ve got a little time. Obviously, it’s going to happen in a hurry. I’ll come in and keep working every day and keep getting better like I have been and, hopefully, I can get a couple of games in.”
Quick played only 49 games last season because of a nagging groin injury, well down from a career-high of 72 set during the 2009-10 season. He said he hadn’t thought much about decreasing his workload for the coming season, leaving the decisions up to the coaching staff.
“You love playing games, so you never voluntarily ask for games off,” Quick said. “I think the coaching staff has a good feel for goaltenders and the team and what’s best for them. They run the ship and we just go to work. That’s it.
“They tell me to take a day off, I take a day off. They tell me I’m going, I’m going. You want to be involved. You want to be a part of it. You work so hard all summer to play in those games, you want to try to get in there and be a difference-maker for the team.
“So, you want to be a part of it, obviously. I don’t have a number in my head that I want or anything like that.”
Here is the best of the best writing on the Kings from the opening weekend of training camp, starting with Los Angeles News Groups columnist Mark Whicker’s look at Stanley Cup playoffs hero Alec Martinez: http://www.dailynews.com/sports/20140920/alec-martinezs-journey-with-los-angeles-kings-becomes-legendary
My look at the moves the Kings’ rivals in the West made during the summer: http://www.dailynews.com/sports/20140919/anaheim-ducks-the-west-bulk-up-to-challenge-los-angeles-kings
Lisa Dillman of the Los Angeles Times takes a look at defenseman Drew Doughty and his goal of winning the Norris Trophy here: http://www.latimes.com/sports/kings/la-sp-kings-drew-doughty-20140920-story.html
Dillman also catches up with captain Dustin Brown here: http://www.latimes.com/sports/kings/la-sp-dustin-brown-kings-20140922-story.html
In the Orange County, er, Los Angeles Register, Rich Hammond previews the Kings’ No. 1 goal in Monday’s split-squad exhibitions with the Arizona Coyotes: http://www.ocregister.com/articles/kings-635851-monday-home.html