Jonathan Quick is expected to be back in-between the pipes for the Kings tonight in Dallas. Terry Murray received a lot of grief for his decision to play Bernier in place of Quick against New Jersey, breaking up Quick’s three game shutout streak. The Kings were shutout in the contest by a score of 3-0, but Bernier is not totally to blame for the loss. Is Murray to blame?
I personally have no idea what kind of mental influence it would have on a team to take out a hot goaltender in this way. Did Murray’s move shake the confidence of the skaters, perhaps making them grip their sticks and play outside of their system? Did the pressure of being injected into the middle of Quick’s streak intimidate Bernier and affect his game? I suppose this is all possible but it’s impossible to lump blame on any of these parties (except for the Kings skaters who just played a poor game).
However, the outcome of tonight’s match-up against Dallas will directly influence the amount of criticism Murray receives after the game. What are the possibilities?
-Quick plays and loses. Murray is blamed for essentially taking out his pitcher during a no-hitter. Murray inherits the sole blame for 2 full losses, the Bernier loss to the Devils and this one. No matter how well or how poorly Quick plays, Murray will take the heat for it simply because he didn’t make a popular decision.
-Quick plays and wins but is scored on. Murray is blamed for breaking up the shutout streak but that’s pretty much where it ends.
-Quick plays and gets a shutout. Pundits either scratch their head and continue to question Murray’s choices or laud him as a genius.
Hey, maybe Murray is a genius. Maybe he saw that there was mounting pressure on Quick because of the streak and thought, “Okay, if I break up the streak and put Bernier in, then all of the pressure is on me.” Not that any coach wants to put his neck on the chopping block, but if he saw it as a calculated risk that could pay off in his favor, who knows…
The truth is more likely just like Murray said, there was already a plan in place for who would play in which game and regardless of the streak they were sticking to it.
Whatever the reasons were, Murray has and likely will catch some more heat for this decision. Meanwhile, the Kings offense hasn’t been all it can be. The addition of Richards, Gagne, and a revamped Penner were meant to add goals in the back of the net, but have yet hit a stride. Until that day comes, Kings fans will be waiting for the wave of offense to crest.
The puck drops at 5:30 pm PT tonight in Dallas. Go Kings!
About the Author
Written by Eric Cooney
Eric Cooney was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina, and lives in Los Angeles, CA. He shares his thoughts on the NHL as one man who is a northerner, southerner, east coaster, and west coaster. Follow him on Twitter @EricCooney