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Kings Notebook (Nov. 12)

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings
Jonathan Quick will start on Friday night.

ATLANTA – After a couple solid days of practice, and maybe a bit of different perspective from the bench Wednesday night, Jonathan Quick got his job back.

Kings coach Terry Murray said Quick will start in goal Friday against Atlanta, two days after Quick sat and watched fellow goalie Erik Ersberg help the Kings to a 5-2 victory over Carolina in Ersberg’s second start of the season.

"I'm going to go with Quick," Murray said. "I liked (Ersberg’s) game. I feel that, having not played him a lot this year, only the one other game, that I just don't want to go to the well right now, with the demands on the energy side of it.

"Quick had a day of practice yesterday that was very good."

Quick had started 12 consecutive games, and 17 of 18, but after a 4-1 loss to Chicago on Monday, Murray announced that Ersberg would start against Carolina.

It was instructive to note how Murray worded the change. He didn’t say he was making the move in order to get Ersberg in a game, or even that Ersberg deserved it. Murray said, specifically, that the change was made because of Quick’s poor game against Chicago.

With that bit of motivation, Quick spent two days practicing long with goalie coach Bill Ranford, on issues big and small, mental and physical.

One issue, fairly evident from watching games, was Quick’s tendency to get beat by high shots. Murray said that, even in practice, he noticed Quick’s tendency to get too "bent over" in front of the net, which made him susceptible to getting beat high.

Ranford said that was one of the issues he worked on with Quick.

"Just being a little bit more relaxed, and a better presentation, being a little more upright," Ranford said. "Just trying to take some pressure off his legs. You dig in a little bit, and sometimes you fatigue a little quicker. He's been playing so much hockey, and you lose that jump sometimes in certain situations, so it's more maintenance."

Ranford and Murray both noted the lack of practice time Quick has received a late, a combination of the Kings’ compact schedule, Murray’s desire to have Quick play so many games in a row, and the recent flu bug that cost the team a couple practices.

Quick said the break was good for him, as it allowed him to get a mental break and work on technical parts of the game without worrying about preparing for an opponent.

"It does (help)," Quick said. "Obviously when you're playing games every other night, you get into a rhythm, which is good, but there are little things, details, that you might lose sight of. When you get a couple days of practice to work on things, it slows the game down a little bit for you and makes it a little bit easier."

Murray had praise for Ersberg and said Ersberg would get another start shortly, possibly even as soon as Saturday’s game at Tampa Bay, since that is the second of back-to-back games for the Kings.

After a rough outing in his first start of the season, a 4-2 loss to the New York Rangers, Ersberg allowed a couple long-range goals but made 22 saves.

"I thought Ersberg was real good," Murray said. "I really liked his attitude. He came out with a couple big saves, very aggressive out of the net to the shooter. They found that F3 (forward) several times in the game, and he was quick to that pass and on the puck. He stayed strong throughout.

"After the first goal, there were a couple of shots that came that required big saves. He responded to that, and the same after they tied the game up. There was another opportunity there and he, again, came out with an aggressive attitude and made a big stop. Overall, his rating is pretty good."

Murray said he had not yet decided about any lineup chances for Friday’s game. On Wednesday, defenseman Randy Jones played in place of Sean O’Donnell and winger Peter Harrold played in place of Raitis Ivanans.

It’s doubtful that Jones will be leaving the lineup, given that he played 16-plus minutes of solid hockey, scored the game-winning goal in the third period and had one assist in his debut with the Kings.

Jones was claimed off waivers from Philadelphia on Oct. 29.

Jack Johnson led the Kings in average ice time earlier this season, and at one point was playing in the range of 25-27 minutes per night. Those numbers took a dip recently, with Johnson playing less than 20 minutes against Pittsburgh last week.

On Wednesday, Johnson played 19:22 and didn’t record a point, or even a shot, but he had an even rating and drew heavy praise from Murray. Johnson also proved to be a strong partner for Jones.

"Jack played one of his best games of the year," Murray said. "I told him that this morning. I thought he was outstanding in his view of the game, which is from the checking part of it. ... He did a great job in moving the puck.

"His neutral-zone counters were with the right attitude. It's one play and it's getting up there the right way, and he was heavy in his play down below the goal line. Very strong. I loved his game last night. That was his best game, in those little subtle parts of the game, that I've seen from him in, I can't put a number but, several games."

Johnson received mild boos from the Carolina crowd. The Hurricanes drafted Johnson No. 3 overall in 2005, but he decided to honor his commitment to the University of Michigan and was traded to the Kings two years later.
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