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Morning Skate: Bernier to Back up Quick

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings
Jonathan Quick will continue to start but be backed up by prized prospect Jonathan Bernier.

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Jonathan Bernier arrived here by plane, not ambulance, but once again Bernier is the goalie the Kings turn to in an emergency situation.

Murray on Bernier Recall

The Kings called up Bernier from Manchester of the AHL this morning to serve as Jonathan Quick’s backup, as Erik Ersberg is out with a strained back. Bernier is scheduled to start Tuesday when the Kings face the Nashville Predators.

Bernier was called up under emergency conditions, an important distinction because the Kings, under normal circumstances, can make only three more call-ups this season.

Bernier was also an emergency call-up on March 12, the day Quick became a first-time father, and Bernier recorded a 2-1 shootout victory over the Stars.

"He will be playing in the game in Nashville tomorrow," coach Terry Murray said. "That's a decision we made right after the Dallas game. We got a report that Ersberg had strained his back. Our reaction is a process, and it's a process that we always have to go through with any call-up. It started right after the Dallas game.

"Ersberg is feeling quite a bit better here today. He was on the ice skating in the morning, but I've already made the decision. I have talked to people about him playing in Nashville, and Bernier will backup here tonight and play in the game tomorrow."

Bernier, 21, has been one of the AHL’s top goalies this season, with a 29-20-6 record, a 2.07 goals-against average, a .936 save percentage and eight shutouts.

Ersberg has appeared in nine games this season (six starts) with a 2-3-2 record, a 2.68 goals-against average and an .894 save percentage. Murray said he believes Ersberg got hurt during pregame warmups before Saturday’s game against Dallas.

Murray said he didn’t know whether Bernier would accompany the Kings back to Los Angeles after Tuesday’s game or whether Ersberg would be ready for at least backup duty when the Kings host Vancouver on Thursday at STAPLES Center.

The Kings got good news and bad news, in terms of injury, on their defensive corps.

Matt Greene, who missed the previous three games with an undisclosed upper-body injury, will be back in the lineup tonight in place of Randy Jones, who will miss the game with an elbow injury.

"The trainers did a good job, and I'm going tonight," Greene said. "It's tough to not play. You feel like you're letting the guys down, not being out there. It's a little bit easier to watch the team win. If you're losing games, it wears on you a little bit. So it's just good to get back and get a kick at the can with these guys."

Murray said Jones is day-to-day after suffering his elbow injury in Saturday’s game. Jones had appeared in the Kings’ previous 13 games and, for the season, has five goals, 12 assists and a minus-6 rating in 41 games.

"He fell, and his bursa sac split his elbow open, and it's hanging out," Murray said. "So it's that injury. So they have to cut the bursa sac off and it's a very painful injury. I had that same thing, and I know exactly how he's feeling. So he's stiff, he's sore, he's on the medication and I want to put it as a day-to-day thing. It's just a matter of it settling down a little bit here. Hopefully it does that today, and we'll see where he's at tomorrow.

"He's stiff and sore and not able to bend his arm enough, right now, to be able to go out and play."

Murray said he intends to change his forward lines again tonight. Anze Kopitar will center Ryan Smyth and Jeff Halpern, Jarret Stoll will center Alexander Frolov and Dustin Brown, Michal Handzus will center Fredrik Modin and Justin Williams, and Brad Richardson will center Scott Parse and Wayne Simmonds.

Brown on Getting the Offense Going

"We keep looking for that top-end play I guess, in particular from the Kopitar line," Murray said. "We're looking for offense, a line that has that chemistry and can go out and really do the job against the opponent. I'm taking Williams off the line here tonight. It's just not quite there for him right now. He's had a very severe injury and a long rehab there.

"I'm just not seeing that strength, that quickness that he had before the injury, so I'm just going to back off and put Halpern there tonight. Halpern has played with some of the top players in the game this year, in Tampa, and I'm going to put him up there and give him a look, and hopefully there is something good that comes out of it."

A point of emphasis for Murray over the past couple days has been the power play, which has dipped after a sustained period of success this month.

In their first 11 games after the Olympic break, the Kings were 13-for-32 on the power play, but in their last two games, they’re 2-for-14 on the power play.

"What we got away from, to me, is shooting the puck," Murray said. "We're hesitant, over-looking, over-analyzing and over-passing the puck. We just have to get back to shooting it more on the special-teams looks. When you get those one or two breaks, lucky goals, you start to get the confidence to make plays."

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