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Murray to go with the "hot hand" in net

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings

Terry Murray is keeping the pen and paper in his desk drawer.

This time last year, Murray sat down and wrote out a specific plan, in terms of which goalie would start each game, through the end of December. This season, there is no firm plan, and that could end up being good news for Jonathan Bernier.

Jonathan Quick enters the season as the Kings‚ No. 1 goalie, and based on his performance last year -- a 2.24 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage -- there's little to suggest that Quick won't hold that job for the entire season.

But for the first time, Murray disclosed that he wouldn't hold himself to a strict schedule. Quick starts the season as the clear No. 1, but if Quick should wobble a bit in October and Bernier should get off to a strong start, well, things could change.

Asked if he planned to go with the "hot hand" during the season, Murray said, "That is what I'm saying. Quick is our No. 1 guy and he came out of the gate last year and he was great. Every game he played, he was outstanding. We know how important every game, every point is in this league. ... So I'm going to go with the guy that is playing really well. Quick will be the starting goaltender coming out of the training camp, and that's how we will deal with it as we move forward."

Murray had praise for Bernier, who appeared in 25 games as Quick's backup last season and had a 2.48 goals-against average and .913 save percentage, but Murray quickly rejected the suggestion that he might essentially have two No. 1 goalies.

"I have one No. 1 goaltender. Jonathan Quick is the No. 1 goaltender," Murray said. "Jonathan Bernier is a goaltender in waiting. I was real happy with his second half of the year. He played some huge games. In fact, I think he got points in every game that he played after the All-Star break. He's starting to get his feel in the NHL. He's moving in the right direction, understanding the shooters and the pace of the game now. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens, but Jonathan Quick is our No. 1 guy."

Having experienced a few close calls over the years, and having seen fellow NHL players go through scary eye-related injuries, Jarret Stoll decided this summer to make a change and start wearing a visor for the first time in his pro career.

Stoll said he has not regularly worn a visor in games since he played junior hockey 10 years ago, but said the transition during training camp has not been difficult.

"I've tried it the last couple summers, and I've always taken it off," Stoll said. "My mom and girl were all over me, so I thought I better do it. I think I had four good nicks (on the face) last year, around the eyes and nose, and maybe seeing what Manny Malhotra went through kind of opens your eyes a little bit. Hopefully I can stick with it."

Stoll previously centered the Kings‚ second line, but with the summer addition of Mike Richards, Stoll is expected to move to center the third line, perhaps between wingers Kyle Clifford and Scott Parse.

Murray said he didn't see the move as any type of reduction for Stoll.

"We have two No. 1 center icemen there with [Anze] Kopitar and Richards, and I think this is going to be great for Jarret Stoll, to fit into that No. 3 position," Murray said. "He's a great checker and I think it's going to give him more minutes over the long haul, because that's the look that I go to against the top opposition. So it's a nice challenge for him. It's a different challenge and I think he's going to embrace it."

Justin Williams, who missed Sunday's practice sessions because of flu symptoms, was scheduled to return to the rink for Monday's late-afternoon practice, Murray said.

The Kings will open their preseason schedule Wednesday with games against the Phoenix Coyotes, one at STAPLES Center and one in Glendale, Ariz.

For the Kings, both rosters will feature NHL regulars. The game in Los Angeles is scheduled to include Quick, Richards, Stoll, Clifford, Dustin Brown, Simon Gagne, Rob Scuderi, Jack Johnson and others, while the game in Arizona is schedule to include Bernier, Williams, Anze Kopitar, Dustin Penner, Matt Greene, Alec Martinez, Willie Mitchell and others.

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