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Fiset Can’t Mask Feelings After Being Replaced by Storr

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Stephane Fiset didn’t like the decision but said he understood. Jamie Storr was surprised but said he was excited and nervous. Coach Larry Robinson said it was nothing personal but something had to be done.

That was the fallout here Friday after Robinson’s decision to replace Fiset with Storr as starting goaltender tonight for Game 2 of the Kings’ best-of-seven first-round playoff series against the sharpshooting St. Louis Blues.

Fiset was lit up for five goals in less than 34 minutes in the Kings’ 8-3 loss to the Blues on Thursday at the Kiel Center, and Robinson chose the switch in hopes of recharging his struggling team.

“I’m not going to say that it was my decision, but as a group we felt that it was the right way to go,” Robinson said after practice. “Just because when Jamie came in, he played pretty solid [this season]. Maybe it will give the team somewhat of a different look as well. St. Louis hasn’t seen him play that much.”

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After replacing Fiset in the second period Thursday, Storr played nearly 27 minutes, giving up three goals in 13 shots. But Robinson said he has a hunch that Storr’s calmness could be the right remedy to get the Kings to play disciplined but aggressive hockey.

“The one comment that is often said about Jamie is that you have to wonder if there’s not ice running through his veins,” Robinson said. “Nothing really bothers him or affects him. Now whether or not he keeps that inside, I don’t know. But certainly Steph carries his emotion on his shirt collar. He’s very emotional and very intense in everything he does.”

As expected, Fiset was not happy with the move. He said he was nervous at the start and made some poor plays, but he settled down as the game went on. His biggest problem, he said, were the Blues who skated freely in the Kings’ zone all game.

“It’s playoff time and sometimes you need a change like this to turn things around,” Fiset said. “Sometimes it’s good. Sometimes it’s not. Myself, I really don’t accept it. I’m pretty frustrated about it. But that’s the game, that’s what this is about. I have no choice but to accept it. But the next time I get my chance, it’s going to be myself in the net because [Robinson] will never . . . pull me out again.”

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Before the playoffs began, Robinson hinted that he wouldn’t hesitate to put in Storr if Fiset were not on top of his game. Because Fiset had lost seven of his last nine starts, and given up an average of 3.67 goals in those games, Robinson said he was a little concerned about Fiset’s confidence and that the playoffs were no time to be worried about feelings.

Fiset said he hadn’t felt good reading about Robinson’s position just days before Game 1 but that he took the ice Thursday confident his problems were behind him.

“It’s not that low, like everybody thinks,” he said of his confidence level. “I still have a lot of confidence in myself. If I had played a really bad game last night, maybe my confidence would be bad. But it’s not.

“I didn’t fight the puck. It’s just that [the Blues] were always there for the rebounds and kept two guys in front of me. It was hard to see the puck and make a solid save.”

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Storr, 22, has been groomed to become the Kings’ top goaltender since the team picked him in the first round of the 1994 draft. Now he’s getting to start his first NHL playoff game a bit earlier than expected.

“I didn’t know what to expect after last night’s game,” he said. “They could have gone either way. It was [Robinson’s] decision and it’s final for now. I’m real excited to get a chance to play. It’s always been a dream of mine to play in the Stanley Cup playoffs and now I’m getting my chance and that’s all I can ask for.”

* THE NHL / HELENE ELLIOTT: Geoff Courtnall wishes his father had been alive to see his six-point game. C4

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

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Tonight’s Game 2

Kings at St. Louis

Time: 4:30 p.m.

TV: Fox Sport West

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Radio: XTRA (690)

Manning Their Posts

KING GOALIES (REGULAR SEASON)

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Goalie W-L-T GAA SO SV% Storr 9-5-1 2.22 2 .929 Fiset 26-25-8 2.75 2 .909

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KING GOALIES (VS. BLUES)

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Goalie W-L-T GAA SO SV% Fiset 0-4 5.48 0 .833 Storr 0-0 6.67 0 .769

*--*

Note: Frederic Chabot was in goal for one game against the Blues; his record: 0-0-1, 2.11 goals-against average, .923 save percentage.


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