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Darryl Sutter pointed to Jonathan Quick and demanded better play. Could Bernier finally earn more starts?
Darryl Sutter, on whether Jonathan Quick will start versus Columbus on Friday:
"We haven’t thought about it. I haven’t gotten there. Bernie’s coming off a strong game, and…it’s not like I’m jumping, out, saying anything special. We need him to play a hell of a lot better than he has. Our goals against, our save percentage, when you do all that stuff, it’s not where it has to be." - LA Kings Insider
In a seemingly endless series of discussions about "What's wrong with the Kings?", few pundits have brought up the fact that last year's Conn Smythe hero hasn't made enough saves. Willie Mitchell is out, and so is Matt Greene. Surely it must be the defense in front of Quick letting him down?
Sure, there have been breakdowns (and they have all been thoroughly dissected over the first 10 games, because that's what you do when you're losing). But though the reshuffled defense has been under pressure, the Kings are still such a strong puck possession team that they only allow 25 shots against per game -- good for second best in the league.
What about high quality scoring chances, though? Thanks to Robert's work, we know they only average 9 scoring chances against. Both these figures are very low.
Sutter will no doubt continue to harp on his young defensemen for improvement, but it'd be impossible to whittle scoring chances down to zero. The fact is, any starting goalie in the NHL is going to be called on to make some tough saves. And right now, Sutter is right: Quick isn't making enough of them.
In the long run, we expect this to change. Quick is still getting up to speed after back surgery, and right now his numbers are well below his own career average (.916 SV%). But until he does, it makes sense to give more starts to Jonathan Bernier.
|Games||Starts||ES SV%||PK SV%||Total SV%|
Though his total save percentage is not above Quick's after starting one game and coming into another in relief, we can break down all the goals Bernier's given up, and few are what I'd class as his fault. His numbers took their biggest hit in Anaheim, where the penalty killers had an uncharacteristically bad game, but he's been solid at even strength. Sutter particularly praised his rebound control against the Blues.
A real live (short term) goalie battle?
Ever since Bernier arrived, Quick put forth some of his best efforts in the first months of the season, effectively ending the goalie debate each year. Though the Kings have locked Quick up for a decade, in the short term things seem much more up in the air.
Sutter declared his intention of giving Quick the bulk of the starts in 2013 -- even 90% of them. If Sutter is (or was) serious about this plan, Quick would start 43 times and Bernier only 5. That workload's a bit extreme in today's NHL, and the Kings still have seven sets of back-to-back games coming up (four of them in March).
The Goalie Guild proposed a ratio of 34/14 starts for Quick and Bernier back in January. If Bernier builds off his strong showing in St. Louis, could he earn even more?
Bernier trade rumors keep swirling, but I want him to stay put. The Kings need to put together a long winning streak right now if they are going to pull back into the playoff picture. Between Quick's slow start and Martin Jones' inconsistent season in Manchester, I don't see how the Kings can afford to move him yet. Strong play by Bernier now could also potentially boost his value.
Let's throw this open to pre-game discussion:
1. Who do you think will start Friday against Columbus? Who do you want to see?
2. What's the best way to split Quick and Bernier's workload the next ten games? Do you give Quick more time to improve, or would you go with the hot hand?
3. Would you trade Bernier for a defenseman? Would any team offer much for Bernier right now?