Well, isn’t this a surprising little development?
Jonathan Quick, riding a three-game shutout streak, the longest in Kings history, will be on the bench Tuesday night when the Kings host the New Jersey Devils as Jonathan Bernier will be in between the pipes for Los Angeles. Quick has started six of the Kings’ first seven games this season, starting all of them but the Kings’ second game which game back in Germany against the Buffalo Sabres, where the Kings lost 4-2; their only regulation loss of the season to this point. The Kings’ other loss came in a shootout, and it came to these very same New Jersey Devils. So when the Kings have lost this year, either Jonathan Bernier’s been in net, or it’s been against the Devils.
The Kings’ only loss came against the Buffalo Sabres, in a game that I completely expected the Kings to lose before I even considered or knew who was only going to be in net. The Sabres are an awesome team, and it was the Kings’ second game in as many days, also in as many countries, it was in Europe, and it was the end of a very, very long, tough road trip, that began before the season even started. It’s hard to even fault Bernier on any of the four goals he surrendered to the Sabres. The team in front of him did not help him out, and I don’t blame them for already being on the plane ride home in their mind before the game even started. Maybe the first goal you can blame Bernier on, but Luke Adam took a hard shot from the slot that I think it just looked like a bad goal because it trickled through Bernier, but really I think he was just lucky to get a piece of it. If you want to check out my game story from that game, where I also talked about why not to blame Bernier, click here… http://thehockeyhouse.net/los-angeles-kings/kings-end-european-trip-with-loss-to-sabres/
As far as the Devils go, the Kings lost to them because they couldn’t score, falling 2-1 in a shootout. Whether it’s Quick or Bernier in net, it sure would be nice for the team in front of them to give them some more goal support. The Devils certainly have some firepower up front with Ilya Kovalchuk, Zach Parise, and Patrik Elias, and Adam Larsson has the potential to create a lot from the blue line, but the Devils lack scoring depth. Top center Travis Zajac is still injured. The Kings were able to basically shut the Devils offense down for the most part in their last meeting, and whether it’s Quick or Bernier in net, I have confidence in both of them, and the defensive play by the team in front of them, to be able to hold New Jersey’s offense in check once again. What is a question mark, however, is whether the team will score some goals. After Simon Gagne’s goal at 1:47 of the first period, the Kings were shutout for the remaining 61:13 of regulation and overtime, and then failed to convert in the shootout after only allowing one goal in that span allowed them to get to a shootout and at least get a point.
Ilya Kovalchuk had the shootout winner in that game, a goal that Jonathan Quick really had no chance on. I was kind of hoping Kovalchuk’s shootout attempt would have been more like this… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXQj22KMVXY
If you would like to check out my game preview for the Kings’ first game with the Devils, you can view that here… http://thehockeyhouse.net/los-angeles-kings/back-in-north-america-the-kings-head-to-new-jersey/
And if you want to see my game story, click here… http://thehockeyhouse.net/los-angeles-kings/kings-salvage-point-as-offense-sputters-in-new-jersey/
So, the Kings have a rejuvenated Devils squad to deal with, as well as a rejuvenated Ilya Kovalchuk. Kovalchuk and the Devils struggled mightily out of the gates last season, but in his first six games, Kovalchuk has six points (two goals and four assists), as well as a pair of shootout winners (against the Kings and Predators). As mentioned in my last post (click here if you would like to read it, I talked about it in the second last paragraph… http://thehockeyhouse.net/los-angeles-kings/the-stars-dont-shine-in-la/), the Staples Center crowd will get another chance to boo Ilya Kovalchuk, after Kovalchuk put Kings fans everywhere through a summer of agony last year when he was courted by the Kings as an unrestricted free agent, and even went to LA with his wife to check out the city and meet with several members of the Kings organization, and appeared to be all but signed, before he shockingly out of nowhere decided to re-sign in New Jersey, when it appeared the Devils were out of it, breaking the hearts of several Kings fans who were very excited about the possibility of having a sniper of Kovalchuk’s caliber in LA. He heard lots of boos last year, and I’m sure there will be many again this year.
As far as the Devils go, who also have Zach Parise back after missing him for almost all of last year to injury, they’re off to a 3-2-1 start, but were 32.4 seconds away from defeating the San Jose Sharks and going 4-1-0, before Joe Pavelski tied it up late and the Sharks won it in a shootout. They then fell to the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-1 on Saturday. It’s likely that Johan Hedberg will be in goal for the Devils, who the Kings couldn’t beat even once back in New Jersey.
The Kings are searching for revenge over the Devils, the last team who defeated them, and to extend their winning streak to five and their point streak to six, as well as keeping their perfect record at Staples Center alive (2-0-0, although they’re 3-1-0 in “home” games technically…), and Jonathan Bernier tries to pick up where Quick left off and perhaps even extend the Kings’ overall shutout streak to four games. He’ll need a very strong effort and a win in order to keep Murray’s confidence in him with Quick playing so well right now. Although he would be helped greatly if the team could do for him what they haven’t been able to do for Quick except for the game against the St. Louis, and that’s get him some goal support. Quick’s nearly had to be perfect in all of these games just for the Kings to be able to win.
Will the Kings’ offense finally break through? Will Jonathan Bernier put in a strong effort and help the Kings exact their revenge over the Devils, or will the Devils beat the Kings for the second time this month?
Side note: Drew Doughty is eligible to be activated off the injured reserve in time for this game, but it’s not expected that he will be. He hopes to join the Kings on their upcoming road trip, meaning Slava Voynov will get at least one more chance to try and leave a lasting impression on the Kings brass.