Until last month, Jeff Carter had spent his entire NHL career playing home games in the Eastern time zone. That didn’t afford him much of an opportunity to get a look at Kings goalie Jonathan Quick.
Since he joined the Kings just before this season’s trade deadline, though, Carter has developed a good impression of Quick, who has been among the NHL’s top goalies in all statistical categories this season.
“He’s pretty special. I definitely didn’t like playing against him,” said Carter, who previously played for Philadelphia and Columbus. “Up until last year, he was a goalie that I didn’t know much about. From being out here, he might not get as much exposure as some of the other guys.
“In my eyes, he’s right up there with the top in the league, and he’s shown it from what I’ve seen since I’ve been here. He’s right up there. It’s definitely good for us to know that he’s back there and got our backs. It makes things a little easier for us.”
Quick is tied for the league lead with eight shutouts this season, but his coach doesn’t impress easily. Darryl Sutter has coached strong goalies throughout his career — Ed Belfour, Mike Vernon and Miikka Kiprusoff, to name three. He offered praise but said Quick can still stamp himself as an elite goalie.
“You have to prove that over a period of time,” Sutter said. “Jonathan has had a great season, but you have to be a 40-win goalie. There’s two guys this year that are going to do it, and those guys are aces.”
Quick didn’t add to his win total Saturday, stopping 22 of the 25 shots he faced in the Kings’ 4-2 loss to the Bruins. Los Angeles returns to action Monday at Vancouver.
NOTES, QUOTES Key road trip on deck –After a 4-1 run during five consecutive games in Southern California against Detroit, Anaheim, Nashville, St. Louis and Boston, the Kings now hit the road for their final extended trip of the season. On Monday, they begin a weeklong trek through Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Minnesota. A strong road trip by the Kings would go a long way toward securing a playoff spot, but the Kings have put themselves in that position because of their improved play at home under Darryl Sutter.
The Kings were 7-8-1 at Staples Center under former coach Terry Murray. Under Sutter, they are 13-5-3 at home.
Through Saturday’s games, the Kings and Sharks were tied for the eighth and final playoff spot with San Jose, each with 86 points through 75 games. However, the top two teams in the Pacific Division each had 87 points: Dallas, which had played 75 games, and Phoenix, which had played 76. The division winner is assured of at least the No. 3 seed for the playoffs.
–LW Dustin Brown and C Colin Fraser were both able to play Saturday, but not without some cosmetic work. In the third period of Thursday’s game against St. Louis, Brown and Fraser both suffered cuts to their heads from St. Louis skate blades. Brown required approximately 20 stitches to close a cut near his ear, while Fraser needed eight stitches for a cut that came within a couple inches of his right eye. Fraser scored a game-tying goal in the second period Saturday.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “Every team is battling for points now. Our focus is on Vancouver now. We played hard, and the outcome wasn’t there. We can’t sit here and think about what-ifs right now. We just have to focus on the next game. We still can control our own destiny.” — Kings captain Dustin Brown, after Los Angeles’ 4-2 loss to Boston on Saturday.
ROSTER REPORT PLAYER NOTES: –LW Simon Gagne is running out of time to make a comeback this season. Gagne has been out of the Kings’ lineup since he suffered a concussion in a Dec. 26 game against Phoenix. He has been participating in post-practice skating for more than a month, but he has not yet been cleared to return to full-team practice. Gagne isn’t expected to join the Kings on their upcoming four-game road trip, after which they will only have three games remaining in the regular season. Gagne, who has one more season remaining on his contract, has seven goals and 10 assists in 34 games this season. –C Colin Fraser scored his second goal of the season to tie the game for the Kings in the second period. Acquired from Edmonton last June in a trade that sent LW Ryan Smyth to the Oilers, Fraser missed the first few weeks of the season as he recovered from late-summer foot surgery, but upon his return, Fraser quickly secured a spot as the Kings’ fourth-line center and a penalty-killer. Fraser scored his first goal since Nov. 12 against Minnesota, in what was his second game of the season. –D Drew Doughty certainly had an interesting second period. Five-plus minutes into the period, with the Kings on the power play, he had his pass picked off by C Brad Marchand. The Bruins scored a short-handed goal a few seconds later. Doughty got his redemption, though, with less than seven minutes remaining in the period. Doughty took a pass from LW Kyle Clifford and, from the right boards in the Boston zone, found C Colin Fraser in front with a perfect pass that led to a Fraser goal.
MEDICAL WATCH: –LW Simon Gagne (concussion) was placed on injured reserve Dec. 28. He is out indefinitely. –LW Scott Parse (hip) was placed on injured reserve Nov. 9 and underwent surgery Dec. 2. Parse will be out until at least early April, and he might miss the remainder of the season.