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LAKings.com Mailbag (Aug. 18)

Questions About Kings Goaltending

Tuesday, 08.18.2009 / 7:04 PM / Los Angeles Kings | News
By Thomas LaRocca  - LAKings.com Staff Writer
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LAKings.com Mailbag (Aug. 18)
What should fans expect out of the Kings goaltending this season?

The LAKings.com Mailbag returns with the second installment of the 2009-10 season answering questions on topics ranging from the Kings goaltending situation to whether or not the Kings have an interest in signing veteran defenseman Chris Chelios. Those answers and more in this week's LAKings.com Mailbag...and check back in two weeks for the next LAKings.com Mailbag.

Archive: Aug. 4 -LAKings.com Mailbag

I am a little concerned about the goaltending situation. Is there a backup plan if we get the same performance as last year?
Adrian L, Vancouver BC, Canada


Thanks for the question Adrian. Not sure if you are aware of how good the goaltending was for Los Angeles last year...let me rattle off the numbers: the Kings finished 11th overall in GAA (2.76 GAA) and sixth overall in the Western Conference. Of the 10 teams ranked above them in GAA (Boston, Minnesota, San Jose, New Jersey, Chicago, NY Rangers, Vancouver, Carolina, Columbus and Florida), only two teams (Florida and Minnesota) did not qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The 2008-09 Kings were one of the most improved teams in GAA, improving from 2007-08 when the Kings GAA was 3.21 and in 2006-07, when it was 3.38.

Judging by those numbers alone, I would say the Kings would be very happy to get the same performance as last year. In addition, the Kings used just three goaltenders in 2008-09 - Jonathan Quick, Erik Ersberg and Jason LaBarbera, as the goaltending situation began to stabilize a bit...Remember, back in 2007-08, the Kings used seven net minders - LaBarbera, Ersberg, Jean-Sebastien Aubin, Dan Cloutier, Quick, Jonathan Bernier and Daniel Taylor, and the year before that, the Kings used five in Mathieu Garon, Sean Burke, Cloutier, Barry Brust and Yutaka Fukufuji.

Looking back at last year, LaBarbera began the season as the No. 1 goaltender, starting the first 10 games of the season, but after recording just three wins in those 10 starts, head coach Terry Murray gave Ersberg a majority of the reps, starting 16 games from Nov. 4 - Dec. 15, with LaBarbera starting five. On Dec. 15, however, Ersberg suffered a groin injury in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Sharks resulting in the re-call of Quick, a well-regarded goaltending prospect. Quick then started 22 of the final 27 games and 41 of the final 52 games after being recalled from Manchester on Dec. 16. His performance prompted the Kings trade of LaBarbera to Vancouver when Ersberg returned to health.

Quick finished his first season ranked third among rookie goaltenders with a 2.48 goals-against average, 21 wins, four shutouts and a .914 save percentage, including one stretch in which he had a 1.76 goals-against average (16 GA in 546:03) and .942 save percentage (258 saves in 274 shots) in nine straight appearances from March 22 to April 9.

MOST WINS BY KINGS ROOKIE GOALTENDER:
Mario Lessard
23
1978-79
49 GP
Bob Janecyk
22
1984-85
51 GP
Jonathan Quick
21
2008-09
44 GP
Wayne Rutledge
20
1967-68
45 GP
Gerry Desjardins
18
1968-69
60 GP

Quick led LA with a 21-18-2 mark, a .914 SV% and a 2.48 GAA, finishing with the third-most wins by a Kings rookie goaltender in franchise history (see chart to right), Ersberg finished with an 8-11-5 mark, 2.64 GAA and .900 SV% and LaBarbera finished 5-8-4 with 2.83 GAA and a .893 SV%, before being moved to the Canucks (LaBarbera this off-season signed with the Phoenix Coyotes). Quick and Ersberg enter camp as the incumbent No. 1 and No. 2 net minders, but will face stiff competition from Bernier for a roster spot in 2009-10. The Kings also boast prospects Jeff Zatkoff and Martin Jones and the recently selected JF Berube, so the Kings have depth at the goaltending position.

As far as the back up plan? A lot will have go wrong to necessitate one, but if Quick and Ersberg fail, Bernier will have every opportunity to show he is a No.1 net minder in the league. Bernier posted a 23-24-4 mark with a 2.40 GAA and a .914 SV% with the Manchester Monarchs, the Kings AHL affiliate, last season.

With the recent signing of Juraj Mikus, where does Dean Lombardi expect him to be next year? With the Kings or Monarchs?
Jason K.


The Kings signed Mikus to a two-year entry level contract on July 21, 2009, after he wowed Kings management during a tryout at Kings development camp this summer. Mikus has good size (6-1, 200 lbs), and scoring touch (31-59=90 in 56 games in 2008-09 with Skalica HK 36) for a team that had trouble scoring at times last season, which makes him an intriguing prospect. But, keep in mind, he is listed as a centerman, a position the Kings are pretty deep at currently (Anze Kopitar, Jarret Stoll, Michal Handzus, Oscar Moller, Brad Richardson) with Trevor Lewis banging on the door, and Mikus, the Canadiens fourth-round pick, 121st overall, in 2005, has yet to play in North America, much less the National Hockey League.

Anything is possible but he would really have to blow Kings management away at Training Camp to start the season with the Kings. Most likely, he will begin the year in Manchester and could see some time in Los Angeles at some point during the season depending upon his and the team' performance and health.

Chris Chelios in a Kings uniform?

I think the Kings should sign Chris Chelios, his salary is inexpensive in comparison to the the amount of experience the Kings will receive. I know the Kings defensive core is pretty young and inexperienced, Chelios could have a big impact. What are the chances the Kings sign him?
Trevor T.


Adding the experience that a Chris Chelios brings to the table on the Kings back end would certainly be intriguing...however, the Kings currently have depth on the blue line with a projected depth chart entering training camp that looks something like this:
Drew Doughty - Davis Drewiske
Jack Johnson - Rob Scuderi
Sean O'Donnell - Matt Greene

In that top six, you have a good mix of young players (Doughty, Drewiske, Johnson, Greene) and veterans like Scuderi and O'Donnell, both of whom have won Stanley Cups. In addition, Peter Harrold, the Kings forward/d-man hybrid extraordinaire, and prospects Colten Teubert, Thomas Hickey and Alec Martinez, amongst others, will challenge for a roster spot.

Of course the possibility exists to add a veteran to the back end, and GM Dean Lombardi has shown that he is willing to do that to help the team following O'Donnell's pick up at the end of September last year. One can also not account for injuries as well as what players might become available as training camps get underway. So it certainly is possible that the Kings can add a defenseman...whether it could be Chelios or someone else remains to be seen.

Thank you for all of your questions and comments. LAKings.com would like to answer as many questions from Los Angeles Kings fans as possible. E-mail your query to LAKings.com for possible inclusion in a future mailbag column. Letters can be addressed to any member of the organization and may be edited for brevity, length and/or content. Please include your name and location along with your question and email feedback@lakings.com or fill out the form below: