2010-11 Season Preview: Overview and Goalies

The Los Angeles Kings celebrate after defeating the Vancouver Canucks 3-2- in overtime in Game Two of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 17, 2010 at General Motors Place in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)Last season, I wrote that the Kings were on the cusp of announcing their presence with authority after four seasons of stockpiling young talent. I also wrote that despite all that talent, they were going to miss out on the playoffs.

O.K., one out of two isn't bad.

The Kings took a huge step forward in their development as a Stanley Cup-contending franchise, earning 101 points in 2009-10, breaking the century mark for the first time since 1990-91. (Coincidentally, that was also the last time they won 46 games, tying a franchise record.) And they did it through consistency.

For the first time in six seasons, the Kings made the playoffs. They squared off against the Vancouver Canucks for a spirited series, before losing in six games.

After stealing Game 2 in Vancouver, the Kings came back  to Staples and took it to the Canucks to take Game 3. After leading 3-2 heading into the third period, the experience of the Canucks proved to be the difference, securing Game 4 with four goals in the third. That loss sent the Kings reeling, and they lost the next two and were eliminated from the playoffs.

But that loss gave the Kings the inspiration they needed to take that next step. And heading into this preseason, expectations are high for this young club, on themselves and by the media. Last year, Vegas had the Kings 80-1 to win the Stanley Cup. This year, I heard "someone" got 10-1 at the MGM Grand.

The Kings are finally starting to pay the dividends of Dean Lombardi's long-awaited restructuring plan. The team is deep in prospects at every position, and there's a solid core heading into the season.

Speaking of Lombardi's plan, the old adage is you build a championship team from the goal out. And it can be argued that Lombardi and the Kings have followed that to a tee.

The Kings starting goaltender Jonathan QuickStarting in goal, you have Jonathan Quick, deemed the No.1 netminder early in the preseason by Terry Murray. Last season, Quick emerged as one of the top goalies in the league.

An ironman between the pipes, Quick logged the second-most minutes league-wide between the pipes, while playing in 72 games, a franchise record. Only Martin Brodeur, Miikka Kiprusoff and Henrik Lundqvist played more. Besides that, Quick set another Kings franchise record for wins with 39, eclipsing the old record held by Mario Lessard back in 1980-81.

Not only that, but Quick was named as a goalie for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. And even though he was The Guy Behind The Guy Behind The Guy, he was recognized as one of the U.S.'s three best netminders.

Heading into this season, the main difference between this season and last season is Quick's backup. Last season, that role fell to Erik Ersberg. But his inconsistent play limited him to 11 games.

Enter the Kings' AHL phenom goaltender, Jonathan Bernier. Bernier played on the Kings' minor league affiliate, the Manchester Monarchs, then had a cup of coffee with the team late last season. (He won all three games he played in, including a shutout.) While in Manchester, Bernier posted superior numbers in net and was named the AHL goaltender of the year.

It wasn't so long ago, the Kings were struggling to find one consistent goaltender. (Remember the 2005-06 season?) Now the Kings have two potential No. 1 goalies. Clearly, the addition of Bernier is an upgrade over Ersberg, and coach Terry Murray has said he plans on splitting time more this season between Quick and Bernier.

The funny thing to see, however, is the media's insistence that Bernier will have a breakout season. While that may be true, Murray's plan (or at least the one he's on record with) may allow Bernier to break in slowly. And who knows, you always play the hot goaltender, right? If he can continue his solid play, he just might have that breakout season.

Here's the thing: the starting job is Quick's job to lose. The Connecticut Kid has earned his star and is The Sheriff of Staples. But how nice is it to have a deputy in Bernier?





Related stories

  • Hockeywood's 2010-11 Season Preview: Goaltenders

  • Hockeywood's 2010-11 Season Preview: Forwards

  • Hockeywood's 2010-11Season Preview: Defensemen
  •  

    What did you think of this article?




    Trackbacks
    • No trackbacks exist for this post.
    Comments

    Leave a comment

    Submitted comments are subject to moderation before being displayed.

     Name

     Email (will not be published)

     Website

    Your comment is 0 characters limited to 3000 characters.