March 2, 2013
One of the biggest developments in LA's recent surge — the Kings have won five straight and seven of eight — is who's been between the pipes.
After a slugging start to the campaign, Jonathan Quick has been platooning with Jonathan Beriner and, according to head coach Darryl Sutter, is now in a full-on battle for playing time.
"They're competing against east other to see who plays the next game," Sutter told the media Friday, prior to departing for Vancouver. "It's not necessarily that they're hot. They're playing well enough to win the next game."
Quick, the reigning Conn Smythe winner, received the lion's share of work to start the season and was the goalie of record in nine of the first 10 games.
But after a 3-2 loss in Detroit on Feb. 10 that dropped LA to 3-5-2 on the year, Sutter shook things up.
Bernier got the call for the next two games and played well, recording a 4-1 win over St. Louis and a 2-1 win over Columbus.
That kickstarted a goaltending rotation — since the Blue Jackets win, the Kings have gone: Quick, Quick, Bernier, Quick, Quick, Bernier.
Bernier is a perfect 4-0-0 while Quick is 3-1-0 over the last eight games, and it's the former that could be holding the advantage moving forward.
On Wednesday, Bernier stopped 32 of 33 shots in a 2-1 win over Detroit and was named the game's first star. Afterward, Sutter was full of praise for his 24-year-old 'tender.
"I don't think we had much in the tank, to be honest," he explained. "The goaltender was the difference in the game."
This development is pretty interesting given Quick signed a monster 10-year, $58 million extension with LA in the summer.
While nobody's suggesting there's a Roberto Luongo-Cory Schneider-type situation at play, it's clear Bernier is talented enough to be a No. 1 netminder.
Which begs the question — could he be the No. 1 in LA?
Is it time for the Kings to trade Bernier?