During the 2013 offseason the Los Angeles Kings parted ways with backup goaltender Jonathan Bernier. The move was a long time coming – the Kings crease is the property of Jonathan Quick and Bernier wants to play. With only one Jonathan remaining, the Kings lose a luxury in goaltending depth that few teams enjoy.
Quick struggled at times during the 2013 NHL season. His 0.902 SV% was significantly lower than Bernier’s 0.922 SV% come schedule’s end. Of course, Quick was the man in the playoffs, reminding us all that he is one of the top goaltenders in the world when the pressure is on.
Quick is going to do his thing and win a bunch of hockey games this season, but without Bernier on the bench there is a lack of certainty when Quick can’t suit up. The Kings acquired backup Ben Scrivens from the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Bernier deal. Scrivens is by no means a bad goalie, but he’s short on experience, and more of an unknown, without Bernier’s pedigree, reputation and skill set. Scrivens is an adequate backup, whereas, Bernier was an actual solid backup plan. In case of emergency or injury to Quick the Kings will be forced to put their fate in the hands of the unproven Scrivens, as opposed to, always having the highly touted Bernier to call on in times of trouble.
Playing goal for the Kings is a good gig. They’re a solid defensive team, so their net minders don’t have to deal with constant pressure and high quality scoring chances against all night. For this reason, Scrivens may do a great job in relief for Quick, when he gets the nod. But what if he doesn’t?
If there exists a belief within the organization that Scrivens can’t do the job, expect Quick to play a lot of games this season. That could tire the Kings’ ace, or make injury more likely. There is a different dynamic between the pipes in LA. For the first time since Quick’s emergence as a superstar, he doesn’t have the other Jonathan behind him for support.
I guess you could argue the Bruins, Rangers and Predators would be equally as troubled if their franchise puck stoppers got hurt or went into a funk. Some NHL teams have two good goalies and some have one. The Kings used to be a team that had two and now they probably aren’t. It will be interesting to see if losing Jonathan Bernier hurts them at some point throughout the 2013-14 schedule.