|Jonathan Quick is both mentally and physically more prepared to handle his second full season as the Kings’ No. 1 goalie. |
The physical part is obvious. Never overweight, Quick still managed to improve his conditioning noticeably during the summer and appears more trim and lean.
That was the easy part. More difficult to quantify is the mental side of the game.
Last season, Quick had an extraordinary workload, with 72 regular-season games and six playoff games. Before last season, Quick had never played more than 60 games at any level, and had played a total of only 47 NHL games.
The summer gave Quick a time to reflect on a whirlwind season, one in which he set franchise goalie records for wins and games but admittedly stumbled down the stretch and wasn’t at his best during the playoff loss to Vancouver.
Quick also had to deal with whispers -- and occasional outright declarations -- from media pundits that Jonathan Bernier
would eventually unseat him as No. 1 goalie.
As perhaps the most competitive player on the team, Quick no doubt heard the chatter and perhaps took it to heart, but it seems clear the the vast majority of Quick’s focus this summer was on his own game, not any outside influences.
"There’s a bunch of ways you can look back at (last season)," Quick said.
"Obviously the first way you look at it is just overall team success. I think that’s the measuring stick, whether you’re helping the team win. Obviously you’re going to make mistakes. Those happen, but if your team is winning, you’re doing your job and everyone in the locker room is doing their job. Throughout the season, we did that and we did it well. There were parts of the season when that didn’t happen as often.
"Another way to look at it is to look at playing down the stretch and in the playoffs, the most crucial time of the year, and how you played. Obviously I wish I could have played better. I have a bit of disappointment there. I’m sure the team wishes they could have played better too. We made the playoffs for the first time in nine years or 10 years, whatever it was, and that’s great and all, but at the end of the day, I believe everyone in this locker room thought we could have gone further in the playoffs. We could have fared better against Vancouver, and I have to admit that I wish I could have played a lot better in that series.
"Like you said, it’s in the past and you try to learn from your mistakes, as far as preparation mistakes or just mistakes on the ice. Any little detail that you can look at, you probably could have gone about it a little differently, so you learn from it and you bring that to your game this year and hopefully it works out for the better."
So far, things have worked out well for Quick, who is 2-0 and has allowed only two goals in six periods this season. Quick is scheduled to start in goal when the Kings host Vancouver on Friday night at STAPLES Center.STAYING WITH IT
Murray said he plans to stay with the same lines that he used Tuesday, meaning the Kings would have a first line of center Anze Kopitar
and wingers Andrei Loktionov
and Dustin Brown
"There were some shifts that were very good," Murray said. "I liked the skill level, the plays that they were trying to create, and I want to give them another opportunity to follow up on that effort."
That line didn’t generate any goals in Tuesday’s win over Atlanta, but on the second line, Ryan Smyth scored two goals and Jarret Stoll
had one. They will team up again, along with right winger Justin Williams
, who has one goal this season.SOME HOME COOKING?
Much of the Kings’ success under Murray has come from limiting opponents’ shots on goal. Last season, the Kings ranked third in the NHL in that category, as they allowed opponents an average of only 27.6 shots on goal per game.
It was a bit jarring, then, to see the Kings allow 32 shots on goal in two of their three games this season, but Murray said he’s tossing out the numbers on one of those.
"You know what? On the road, I couldn't care less what that number is," Murray said. "I watch the tape, and there are so many shots that are not being counted for us, and there are shots against that are going up that are not shots on net."
Calgary was credited with 32 shots in its victory over the Kings on Sunday, but Murray said he doesn’t typically spend time totaling what he believes to be an accurate shot count.
"Only when I get upset about it will I count. I'll go through the game, specifically looking at every play to the net to get a count, just to prove myself right," Murray said with a laugh.LOOKING FORWARD
The Kings are scheduled to have a 10 a.m. morning skate Friday at the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo, then host Vancouver at STAPLES Center at 7:30 p.m.