ANALYSIS: With netminder Jason LaBarbera looking more like a sieve in recent games and with goalie Jonathan Quick not yet ready for the National Hockey League, the Los Angeles Kings have hit hard times and it’s going to be an insanely difficult climb in every game until goaltender Erik Ersberg recovers from injury.
After getting blown out and shutout at Buffalo on Friday night and after a loss at Detroit on Saturday night, one thing is certain for the Los Angeles Kings…until goaltender Erik Ersberg recovers from a groin strain he suffered on December 15, wins are going to be a rarity.
Indeed, with goaltender Jason LaBarbera unable to stop a beach ball these days and with goalie prospect Jonathan Quick clearly not yet ready for the rigors of the National Hockey League, the Kings are already on a downward slide, having lost four straight games, including an overtime loss and a shootout loss (0-2-2), and it seems likely that without reliable goaltending, the Kings will struggle to get back into the win column.
Against the Buffalo Sabres on Friday, a 5-0 shutout loss, LaBarbera played miserably, allowing four goals on just fourteen shots before being yanked at the 3:01 mark of the third period in favor of Quick. That performance matched his worst of the season at Colorado on October 20 when he also allowed four goals on just fourteen shots before being replaced by Ersberg at the start of the third period.
After the woeful performance by LaBarbera at Buffalo, Kings head coach Terry Murray decided to go with Quick on Saturday night, and although he played considerably better than LaBarbera has in recent games, his youth and inexperience were evident in a 6-4 loss to the Detroit Red Wings in Detroit.
At present, Quick is better positionally and is faster in his reaction time when compared to LaBarbera, who seems to be totally lost on the ice these days. That said, he is likely to continue to get starts while Ersberg, who has missed three games so far, heals.
One thing to keep in mind: Ersberg must be allowed to heal completely. A groin injury cannot be rushed, especially for a goalie, or he will just aggravate the injury and spend even more time out of the lineup.
Even worse, Ersberg could take more than the estimated two weeks to recover and without competent goaltending from LaBarbera and with Quick not yet ready to play number-one-goaltender minutes in the NHL, the Kings could find themselves under siege by the rest of the NHL for a long time.
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