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Kings Notebook (April 2)

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings
Jeff Halpern is expected to be out at least a week.

After a helter-skelter week, the Kings’ goaltending situation returned to normal Friday afternoon, with Jonathan Quick at one end and Erik Ersberg at the other.

Practice Report

Presumably, that’s the way it will stay for the rest of the season, since Jonathan Bernier, who helped the Kings to two victories this week, has been returned to the AHL.

Ersberg, who missed three games with a back strain, was cleared, on Thursday night, to play, so the Kings decided to return Bernier – who had been with the Kings under emergency conditions – to Manchester and stay with two goalies.

After a two-game break, Quick is expected to start in goal tomorrow against the Anaheim Ducks, with Ersberg serving as his backup, coach Terry Murray said. With Ersberg returning, Bernier either had to be returned to the AHL or officially called up.

"The thinking was that, with Ersberg being cleared last night, he comes off the IR and three goaltenders, quite frankly, does not work," Murray said. "Bernier, in looking at how he played in these last two games, needs to just continue to go. He's doing the right thing. He's an all-star goaltender down there. His development, throughout the year, has been tremendous.

"On the other side of it, Jonathan Quick is our No. 1 goaltender. Quick is playing tomorrow, and I plan on playing him the next several games next week. He's got 39 wins for us, and he's the man who has done the job for us throughout the year. There was no need to have three goaltenders, with that decision."

Quick has already set a franchise record for goalie wins, with 39, and if Quick plays four of the Kings’ last five games, as expected, he will set a record for games played.

Bernier recorded his first NHL shutout in Tuesday’s victory over Nashville, and also earned the victory over Vancouver on Thursday, but all along, Murray remained clear that Quick was his No. 1 goalie and that, by putting Bernier in net, he was motivated by the change to give Quick a mental and physical rest late in the season.

"Along the way, you are going to feel fatigued, either mentally or physically," Quick said, "but every day you just kind of talk yourself into feeling good. You talk yourself into being up for the game, no matter how you're feeling. Regardless, those two games off, it was a good rest. Mentally and physically, I feel good. I got three good, solid days of practice these last three days here, so I feel confident about my game and I feel confident about the team's game. They've been playing well.

"These past few days, I feel like I had three real solid practices. I got a lot of work in, and saw a lot of pucks, so I feel comfortable and confident."

HALPERN OUT

Jeff Halpern, who left Thursday’s game in the first period after a big hit from Vancouver’s Tanner Glass, will be out for at least one week, Murray said.

"That was a hard hit," Murray said. "I've watched it a couple times on replay, and it was pretty intense, pretty hard. He came back and he was having a little difficulty, obviously, on the bench, so that was it for the game. He's just going to need some time here to get through this. The doctor checked him out here again today, at the rink, and the week is probably the time frame that he's going to need to get through it."

Murray declined to say, either way, whether Glass should have been suspended for the hit to Halpern’s head. As of Friday afternoon, the NHL had not announced any punishment for Glass, meaning that none is likely forthcoming.

Raitis Ivanans will replace Halpern, likely on the Kings’ fourth line.

BIG DAY FOR USA

Dustin Brown and Jack Johnson, two members of the Untied States Olympic hockey team that lost to Canada in the gold medal game, got some revenge against Canada’s goalie, Roberto Luongo, in Thursday’s Kings-Canucks game.

Brown recorded his second career hat trick and also had a career-best four-point game, while Jack Johnson had two assists and a plus-3 rating.

"He carried through with the game he showed in Nashville, in my opinion," Murray said of Johnson. "He really started to take over control of shifts when he was on the ice. He did a real good job in Nashville, and stepped it up to the next level last night. I thought he was tremendous, his best game that I've seen him play in two years. Authority, seeing the ice, making plays, very strong with the puck and without the puck, making plays.

"He made a super play on Brownie's goal. Outstanding effort, and just brought his game to the level that we need him, and every player, to bring their game to that level as we go through the rest of this season and get ready for the playoffs."

Brown had a team-high six shots on goal and was credited with only one hit in the official stats, but Murray was pleased with the tone set by his captain early in the game.

"Brownie went out right away and, before even scoring, had a physical presence, some hits," Murray said. "That's the tone that needed to be established, to follow up with the game in Nashville. I thought he did a great job in that area, and then he gets rewarded for that type of an attitude with three goals."
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