Kings Coach Terry Murray acknowledged he probably played goaltender Jonathan Quick “a little too much down the last month” but he wanted a potentially favorable playoff matchup against Phoenix and didn’t feel secure starting an out-of-rhythm Erik Ersberg.
Quick appeared in a franchise-record 72 games and played 4,258 minutes and 27 seconds, second in the NHL. Of the eight goalies who played at least 4,000 minutes only San Jose’s Evgeni Nabokov reached the second round of the playoffs. Quick struggled late in the Kings’ six-game series against Vancouver, compiling a 3.50 goals-against average. His regular-season average was 2.54.
Murray also said Quick developed a shoulder issue after a playoff goalmouth collision and defended the 24-year-old’s efforts. Murray also declined to rule out playing Quick in 70-plus games next season.
“You never say never,” Murray said Tuesday as players gathered for final meetings.
“I think now that he’s shown his level of play that he is a No. 1 goaltender, first of all, is very important. Now that that is settled there will be no discussion about it next year coming into the training camp. He’s our guy. He’s our No. 1 goaltender. Then we’ll see where the competition goes from there and who is going to be from that point the No. 2 guy.”
The Kings’ failure to protect leads in the third period of Games 4 and 6 remains in Murray’s mind but he hasn’t forgotten the franchise record-tying 46 wins or 101 points.
“What’s real important for this group right now is to have a real good grasp on what was done this year, the success, the good feeling and, at the end of the day what we did not accomplish, and how hard it’s going to get back to getting there again,” he said. “There’s wonderful experiences there to draw on, and if we understand it as a group of guys I think we can take the next step forward.”
The bare-faced truth
With no need to obey playoff superstitions anymore, most players shaved their playoff beards. They also came clean about their injuries.
Murray said defenseman Peter Harrold broke his wrist in Game 3 and defenseman Drew Doughty played with an injured wrist. Doughty said he “messed up” his hand in Game 1 and won’t play for Canada in the World Championships in Germany.
Right wing Dustin Brown won’t play for the U.S. because he’s facing facial bone-graft surgery. He lost his teeth a while ago and the bone has been weakening. “Just from a personal standpoint, having teeth would be nice,” he said.
How will Doughty top winning an Olympic gold medal, being a finalist for the Norris trophy and leading the Kings in playoff scoring with three goals and seven points?
“I don’t know the answer to that,” he said. “We’re really excited and proud of the season we had. Everyone in the whole organization is really proud of what we did.”
Doughty has a year left on his three-year, entry-level contract. The Kings can start negotiating an extension with him July 1.
“I’d love to sign a long-term deal,” he said. “I love being in L.A. and I love the group of guys we’ve got so to be able to stick around here for a long time would be awesome.”
Center Anze Kopitar, who reached career-highs with 34 goals and 81 points, said he will increase his summer workouts in hopes of becoming stronger and more productive next season.
“I’m a pretty ambitious person,” he said. “I don’t get satisfied when you don’t reach the top…. I think there is another level in me and I’ve got to bring it out.”
For the Kings to reach the next level they can’t squander leads like they did in Games 4 and 6.
“This next step is to close out games and have that killer instinct when you go with the lead into the third period,” he said.