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Plan B(ernier)

High honors for Quick; Doughty close but not ready

Monday, 10.24.2011 / 5:36 PM / Features
By Rich Hammond

EL SEGUNDO -- Give Kings coach Terry Murray credit: he sticks to his guns.

Murray announced, after Monday’s practice, that goalie Jonathan Bernier will get the start when the Kings host the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night at STAPLES Center. That’s in spite of the fact that No. 1 goalie Jonathan Quick has been the talk of the league in recent days, with three consecutive shutouts.

Murray told Bernier, who started only one of the Kings’ first seven games, after Saturday’s morning skate that he would get the start Tuesday. Then, the hockey gods decided to pull a fast one on Murray, as that night Quick recorded another shutout and ran his streak to 188-plus minutes without allowing a goal.

There was no wavering, though, on the coach’s part. Murray said he made the choice because of the upcoming busy schedule -- three games in four nights, starting Wednesday -- and because all three of those games are against Western Conference opponents.

``Well, I made the decision before the game (Saturday) and I’m not going to change that,’’ Murray said. ``I’ve talked to Bernie about it, I’ve talked to Quicker about it, to let him know. I talked to him briefly about it. That’s the way it is. That’s the decision made.’’

Bernier has appeared in only one game this season, the loss to the Buffalo Sabres in Berlin, in which Bernier allowed four goals on 26 shots. Quick has allowed five goals all season, against 180 shots, but Murray laughed when asked if Quick tried to ``talk him out of’’ the choice to start Bernier.

``He’s very understanding that it’s the early part of the year and there’s a lot of games coming up that are huge games for us,’’ Murray said. ``He can’t play all 82, although I say, `Why not?’ sometimes.’’

HIGH HONOR FOR QUICK
On Monday morning, Quick was named the NHL's ``first star'' for the week that ended yesterday. Ottawa's Jason Spezza and Washington's Tomas Vokoun were the second and third stars, respectively.

Quick became the first goalie in Kings history to record three consecutive shutouts and now holds the franchise's longest streak of consecutive shutout minutes, at 188:10. Quick has also reached 101 career NHL victories. Spezza recorded three goals and four assists in three games last week, while Vokoun went 3-0 with one shutout and allowed a total of three goals in three games.

DOUGHTY CLOSER, BUT NOT QUITE
Drew Doughty, still recovering from the upper-body injury he suffered as a result of a shoulder check from Philadelphia’s Zac Rinaldo on Oct. 15, returned to practice for the first time Monday, but in a yellow, no-contact jersey. Doughty hasn’t been cleared and isn’t likely to play against the Devils on Tuesday.

``Every day it’s just got so much better and everything has started to clear up,’’ Doughty said. “In my mind, I feel like I could play tomorrow, but I probably shouldn’t at the same time. It’s kind of up to the trainers and up to the coaches right now, so we’ll see what happens.’’

Doughty has not yet been medically cleared to play, though, so it’s more likely that his return would come during the upcoming three-game road trip, which starts Thursday in Dallas.

Doughty indicated that he would like to get in a couple full-contact practices before he returned.

``I was very encouraged to see him out there with the team today, as you see in a different color sweater, so there was no contact,’’ Murray said. ``That will probably be the way it will be for another few days.’’

LOW-SCORING GAME EXPECTED
The Kings are coming off a 1-0 victory over Dallas, and another low-scoring game might be on the horizon. The Kings and Devils will meet for the second time in 13 days, following New Jersey’s 2-1 shootout victory on Oct. 13 in Newark.

Devils goalie Martin Brodeur is expected to miss the game with a shoulder injury -- which he suffered in that game against the Kings -- but Kings winger Simon Gagne said he expects another tight game against the Devils, who have long been known as a defense-first outfit.

``We have to understand that it’s going to be a tight game and it’s going to be a battle right to the end,’’ Gagne said. ``That could be a 1-0 game against them. Sometimes, especially when you play at home, you want to do a little more offensively. You want to score more goals sometimes when you’re at home, but against a team like Jersey, it’s something you need to understand and you don’t want to get frustrated.  Because that’s going to be a game where you’re not going to have those 2-on-1s, as much as you saw against other teams early in the season.

``That was the case against Jersey (there), and I think it’s going to be even worse because they’re on the road right now, so we need to play the same way, play our style and understand that it’s going to be a battle right to the end. It might just take one goal, like the last game against Dallas.’’