LOS ANGELES — Funny how two guys managed to combine for 79 regular-season wins and many of the questions in Vancouver and Los Angeles are striking the same note of concern just before the playoffs open.
Will four days off between games do the trick for the Kings’ Jonathan Quick, the goalie winless in his last eight games?
And what of that former tower of strength, Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo, who has looked like he has taken a night or two off since the Olympics?
“He looks, to me, like he’s ready,” Kings coach Terry Murray said of Quick. “Technically, he’s fine. He’s on top of the crease. He’s doing the right thing, absorbing pucks. And with a few days off, I think it just gives him time to kick back a little bit and reflect a little bit and get back on track.”
Vancouver reporters asked Canucks coach Alain Vigneault if he noticed any difference in Quick’s play in the last few weeks. “If I have, I’m not sharing them with you,” he said.
Kings goalie coach Bill Ranford was more forthcoming.
“Realistically, his games haven’t been bad,” he said. “The goals he’s given up are more so a little bit lack of focus or not watching the puck all the way in. It’s not like the stretch he had earlier in the year, where it was more of a technical issue.”
Quick was saying all the right things in terms of the confidence issue — not rattled and not shaken.
“You can never doubt yourself,” he said. “You always have to be confident in yourself and what you can do and what your team can do.”
Defenseman Drew Doughty, on the franchise’s playoff drought:
“I knew they had kind of been slacking off for the last, however long it was, six years, or whatever it was, they hadn’t made the playoffs.”
Eight years. Avid fans probably know down to the minute.
“It’s exciting. I like playing here,” Doughty said. “Obviously, everyone there knows who the Canucks are playing. Everyone here, half of them, probably don’t even know the Kings. We all like that, as a team, being able to just walk around and not be recognized and be a normal, everyday person.”
The Canucks’ Shane O’Brien on the Kings’ Dustin Brown: “He likes to run around and take an extra stride here and there and get a hit if he can. That’s his game, but he’d better be ready for us to take an extra stride to finish on him because he’s one of their better players. I know personally I’m going to go out of my way to make things real difficult on him and not let him have time and space.”
Murray did some experimenting with the third line at practice, putting Brad Richardson on the left wing with center Michal Handzus and right wing Wayne Simmonds. “I wanted to see that speed that maybe would be available on the left side there,” he said. “I know (the Canucks’) wingers are pretty speedy guys.”
Once they get up to Vancouver, Murray won’t be firing up any inspirational movie videos. “I don’t buy that stuff,” he said.
He was amusing talking about that issue, adding: “I did all that in the early part of my career. All these motivational tapes with ‘Rocky’ and ‘Chariots of Fire.’ “
The dismissive look on his face was priceless and said it all: Doesn’t work.
(c) 2010, Los Angeles Times.
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