Quick now new gold standard for L.A. goalies

Los Angeles Kings Goalie Jonathan Quick (32) makes a save as Dallas Stars left wing Loui Eriksson (21), of Sweden, and Los Angeles Kings defenseman Randy Jones (12) watch in the first period during an NHL hockey game Tuesday, March 2, 2010, in Dallas, Texas. (AP Photo/Sharon Ellman)
Game 62: Kings 5, Stars 1

The Kings' all-time goaltending list is admittedly not that impressive. Sure you have Rogie Vachon, Felix Potvin and Kelly Hrudey. But for each of those names, you have a Dan Cloutier, Jason LaBarbera or Rick Knickle.

So when a player can rise up and set a team record in goaltending, you tend to pay attention. That's exactly what happened Tuesday when Jonathan Quick tallied his 36th win of the season to break Mario Lessard's 30-year record.

The Kings picked up where they left off back in February, mainly kicking ass and taking names. Tuesday's team was the Dallas Stars, a team they have outright owned this season. And it was a perfect start to the pressurized stretch run.

I have to say, this "stretch" run is going to be more of a sprint than a run. The league closed up shop for the Olympics, and players couldn't even practice for a week while the Games were underway in Vancouver. But the time off wasn't wasted as teams got healthy and rested for the playoffs.

Sure, Dustin Brown, Jack Johnson, Michal Handzus and Drew Doughty didn't get a break, but thank goodness Quick got some rest. The kid has been an iron man for the Kings this season, and it was nice for Burke to name him to the U.S. team. But let's face it, Quick was  the Christian Laettner of the U.S. Olympic hockey team. A good player in his own right, but wasn't going to see the ice unless something unforeseen happened.

The time off the ice probably gave Quick some time to think and focus on what he needs to do when he laces up the skates for the Kings. And he was able to come out and pick up where he left off for L.A.

Almost.

Dallas Stars defenseman Jeff Woywitka (44) fights with Los Angeles Kings right wing Wayne Simmonds (17) in the second period during an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, March 2, 2010, in Dallas, Texas. (AP Photo/Sharon Ellman)
Quick had several flubs handling the puck. His paddle pass in the first period almost cost a goal. Another pass got away from him later in the game. But what little rust had settled on him was gone at the end of the game. I also heard that he and his wife are expecting a baby any day now. It's been a whirlwind season for Quick, and it's been exciting to see him evolve into the top-end goalie Kings fans have been thirsting for.

Jarret Stoll started the scoring off for L.A. in the first period. He had been struggling on the offensive side of the puck, so it was nice for him to light the lamp first game back.

An example of the beatdown L.A. put on Dallas was the fight Wayne Simmonds had with Jeff Woywitka. Over on hockeyfights.com, over 85 percent of voters gave the fight to Simmonds. Woywitka had checked Simmonds into the boards, then tried to add insult to injury by knocking off Wayne's lid. All that did was awaken a sleeping lion, as Simmonds proceeded to layeth the smacketh down on Woywitka, who probably wished he hadn't kicked that hornet's nest.

The Kings responded by hitting their stride in the period. Goals from Alexander Frolov, Brad Richardson and Ryan Smyth had the Kings in the driver's seat in the second period. Dallas had one goal in the third period, and outshot L.A. 32-22. But the game really wasn't ever in question. When Anze Kopitar popped in his 29th goal with seven seconds left, all that was left was the whimpering of the hapless Stars.

Alexander Frolov, perhaps miffed on not getting the nod from Russia for the Olympics, had a goal and two assists. Despite have three assists, Olympic gold medalist Drew Doughty looked out of sync compared to how he played in Vancouver. However, he was good enough to get the second star. Quick rounded out the top three, giving L.A. a sweep of the top players on the ice.

More importantly, the win gave the Kings 80 points on the season, surpassing last season's total. Since I started blogging back in 2006, I have witnessed the team hit its rockiest seasons. But it has been great to see this team grow and turn into a force. With 20 more games left in the season, it's realistic to say the team won't crack the top three in the West. But many people are finally accepting the fact that L.A. is for real.

• AP: Kings keep winning after break, 5-1 over Stars
“I felt good out there. My job was to lead by example. Guys have been off for a while. So I did all I could to get off to a good start,” Doughty said. “Quicker’s been a big part of our success. We’re sticking to the system, keeping it simple and playing well defensively.”
• LA Times: After layoff, L.A. Kings do great work against Dallas Stars, 5-1
Rust "is something you think about," Quick said of his quiet Olympic fortnight. "But once you get down to the rink and back into your routine, everything starts to feel natural. I need to be sharp, but I caught a couple lucky breaks there and I got a lot of support from the team scoring five goals there."
• LA Kings: All 'Fro One
The Kings had a near-perfect scenario play out Tuesday night, as they turned in a strong effort against an opponent that didn’t look ready to play, and the Kings cruised to a 5-1 victory over the Dallas Stars before an announced 15,571 at American Airlines Center.
• NHL.com: Quick sets Kings wins record against Dallas
"You get back to the rink and get into your routine and everything starts to feel natural," said Quick, who didn't see any action for the U.S. Olympic team as one of Ryan Miller's backups. "I caught a couple of lucky breaks and got a lot of support from my team."
They said it
“I think it’s just the build-up from last year. Last year we played some good hockey and we got to 79 (points) but we obviously missed the playoffs. To be good in this league, you have to stay consistent. I’ve said it many times before, but it is what it is." – Anze Kopitar, on passing last season’s team point total.
“I think it’s probably the right thing to do. A lot of guys were off for 10 days, so they maybe need (fewer minutes) and we’ve been going. It was good to kind of keep playing.” – Drew Doughty, on the big minutes he and Jack Johnson played.
“I felt good. I do think I could have been sharper. I was fortunate enough to make some saves. I caught a few lucky bounces, but some of my decisions with the puck weren’t what they should have been. You watch video and you assess what went wrong and you move on.” – Jonathan Quick, on how he felt, in his first post-Olympic game.
Los Angeles Kings left wing Alexander Frolov (24). of Russia, scores as Dallas Stars gaolie Marty Turco (35) dives to try to stop him in the second period during an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, March 2, 2010, in Dallas, Texas. (AP Photo/Sharon Ellman)
Around the Kingdom

• LAKingsNews: Rust is for losers - The Kings storm Dallas
For the first two periods, the Kings looked like they were playing the Latvian woman’s hockey team with their goaltender Okrap Deyskoragen.
• Jewels From the Crown: I Am Impressed: Kings 5, Stars 1
Love Fest 2010: Drew Doughty. His effort  going end-to-end was the most impressive of the night but close behind was Alexander Frolov's wrap around pass to Jarret Stoll for the goal.
• HockeyBuzz: Doughty, Frolov 3 Points Each as Kings Rope Stars 5-1
I wonder how Ryan Smyth feels, having been in the past Olympics but being excluded this season due to injury, then watching his country mates win the gold.
• MayorsManor: Tuesday Tidbits from Kings-Stars game
There are few things in hockey that make me laugh as much as seeing the look on Marc Crawford's face when the Kings score against him. That vein in his forehead always looks like it's about to explode.
From across the aisle, the Dallas viewpoint

• Dallas Morning News: A bust out of the break: Kings hammer Stars, 5-1
 It was a great return for the Kings, who move to 38-20-4 (80 points) and appear ready to break a seven-season run of missing the playoffs. It was not a great start for the Stars, who are hoping to avoid only their fourth season out of the playoffs since moving to Dallas in 1993.
• Star-Telegram: Stars return from break, show plenty of rust in defeat
"We had a few too many passengers tonight, especially on the defense," Crawford said. "We're the kind of team where we can't have three, four, five guys not at their optimum, especially on defense. That's not an indictment of the defense, but a statement of fact."
• Defending Big D: Lethargic Stars No Match for Kings in 5-1 Loss
Well, Doughty's the same way. He can dole out hits, make smart defensive plays in his own zone, block shots, and he can also dish out assists. Tonight, he dished 'em out to the tune of three assists on the night.
• Five For Fighting: I am a loss after that one
You can call it rust, but the Kings didn't seem to be bothered.
Peeping the dailies



<br/><a href="http://video.msn.com/video.aspx?mkt=en-US&brand=foxsports&vid=41fd153c-48fe-43c2-8b28-75bd1c017bed" target="_new" title="Kings smack Stars">Video: Kings smack Stars</a>

 

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