Jonathan Quick wants the NHL season to resume if only to give the Los Angeles Kings a chance to re-ignite the hot streak they had going before everything got shut down.The Kings had won seven in a row and were 10-2-1 in their previous 13 games before the season was paused on March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.
“I really think the last bit of the season there we were playing the way we wanted to play from the get-go, and everyone was understanding everything,” the Kings’ veteran goalie said Friday. “It really is something to build on and we’re looking forward to that.”
The Kings (29-35-6) are 14 points behind the Nashville Predators and Vancouver Canucks for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference, so odds are if the regular season resumes, they’ll be playing out the string.
But the way they were playing before the pause, especially since it came after trading goalie Jack Campbell, defenseman Alec Martinez, and forwards Tyler Toffoli, Kyle Clifford and Trevor Moore, gives Quick and the Kings reason to believe that next season will be better.
The Kings allowed 10 goals in their seven-game winning streak from Feb. 26-March 11, including four one-goal wins, 2-1 in overtime against the New Jersey Devils and 1-0 in a shootout against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Los Angeles is 6-0-1 in one-goal games since Jan. 30 after going 9-9-5 in their first 19 one-goal games.
“We won a few games 2-1 and 1-0, and we beat Florida [5-4], so we were winning in different ways where earlier on in the year we were finding ways to lose those one-goal games,” Quick said. “When you start stringing a few of them together the team is playing with a little more confidence, you’re not thinking about making mistakes, you’re just thinking about trying to create something. I thought we were doing a really good job of that.”
Video: COL@LAK: Quick robs Bellemare with knob of stick
Quick and goalie Cal Peterson were also getting used to a rotation that started Feb. 6, when the Kings traded Campbell and Clifford to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Quick and Peterson each made eight starts in L.A.’s past 16 games; Quick is 5-2-1 with a .941 save percentage and 1.84 goals-against average. Peterson is 5-3-0 with a .922 save percentage and 2.64 GAA. Quick is 16-22-4 with a 2.79 goals-against average and a .904 save percentage on the season.
“If we do get the opportunity to finish the season, the rotation we had going there the last month, we were both giving our team a chance to win,” Quick said. “That’s exactly what we need to do.”
The Kings were playing how Quick and several of his teammates thought they should have been playing from the start of the season.
It was surprising to them that they struggled by going 11-15-1 through November, including 3-7-1 in October, even though Quick acknowledges the Kings knew that getting accustomed to first-year coach Todd McLellan and the new systems was going to take some time.
“I remember talking with a couple guys toward the end of training camp and we felt real confident in what our team was going to do this year,” Quick said. “I thought we had a real good training camp. Everyone was working hard. We were winning games in the preseason. Going into the season, personally and I know a few other guys that I talked about it with had a lot of confidence in our team. For whatever reason, October really killed us and then November we had some ups and downs. As season went on, we just gradually built it back up, but it was a disappointment at the beginning of the year and that’s not what we expected. We expected to win some games and be in the mix for a playoff spot.”
Now they hope to come out of the pause playing the way they were going into it.
“The tank was as full as it’s been all year,” McLellan told the Kings website on March 30. “Players were doing things the right way. We were coming together as a team. We were structurally much more efficient and less error-prone than we were in the past, which is everything that we could ask of from a relatively new group. … It would’ve been interesting to see if we could’ve maintained it or if we would’ve begun to stray from structure, to stray from the commitment to doing things right. Often with success that begins to happen, especially with young teams. So, it would’ve been a great teaching or learning opportunity for us to go through should it have arrived. But maybe we’ll find that out if we can get back up playing again.”