Call it fortune, good drafting, good coaching or some combination of all three, but wherever he has gone, coach Darryl Sutter has enjoyed good goaltending. The Kings are no exception.
On Wednesday, Sutter's Kings took on the Calgary Flames, the team for which Sutter served as coach, and then general manager, for eight years. On one end was Kings goalie Jonathan Quick. On the other end was Miikka Kiprusoff, the goalie Sutter encouraged the Flames to trade for in 2003.
Sutter also coached Ed Belfour in Chicago and Mike Vernon in San Jose, but the goalie to whom Quick might draw the closest comparison is Kiprusoff.
"Kipper, I had him as a young guy who was still sort of finding his way, had to learn the discipline and the preparation," Sutter said. "He had to learn all that. They have similar work ethics in practice. Kipper really worked at improving what he thought he needed to improve. He would really work at that. I think that's something Jonathan will learn as he goes along."
Quick is considered a solid candidate this season for the Vezina Trophy, which Kiprusoff won in 2006. Quick recorded his ninth shutout of the season Wednesday in a 3-0 victory over Calgary.
"For both of these hockey teams, it's such a huge position," Flames coach Brent Sutter said. "When you look at what Kipper has done for us this year, and for this organization in the past, and you look at how Quick has played in L.A. and how he has developed and what he has brought to that hockey team, it tells you that your teams start with your goaltender on out, and that's the way these two teams are made up.
"Our best player is our goaltender, and so is theirs. That's really it, at the end of the day."
Sutter gives players a between-games rest
--The most valuable thing late in the season is a win. The second-most valuable thing might be recovery time.
At the end of a long, tough season, the Kings are in the middle of a stretch of four games in six nights in four different cities. Darryl Sutter has, of late, gone against what might be a coach's nature and has given his team some time off. The Kings did not practice, or even go to the rink, on Tuesday in advance of Wednesday's game at Calgary.
"You've got to be careful," Sutter said. "I see a lot of people who travel with us sleeping on planes and taking days off, so I'm sure they can relate the fatigue to you. It's simple. We play (Wednesday), and then we go Friday-Saturday and we play Monday again. It's sort of managing it physically, and then trusting the mental part."
--Wednesday's game marked the end of the season series between the Kings and Calgary and, therefore, the end of the Sutter vs. Sutter battle for the season. Darryl Sutter took over for Terry Murray as Kings coach in mid-December, and he faced his brother Brent -- the Flames' coach -- four times this season, producing a 3-1-0 record. Both coaches did their best to downplay the matchup, and facing a brother is nothing new to Darryl Sutter.
During his first coaching stint, in Chicago in the early 1990s, he regularly went head-to-head with older brother Brian, who coached St. Louis.
The Kings' trip was also good in another family way for Darryl Sutter. His wife and youngest son, Chris, still live in the Calgary area, and the family was able to have a birthday party for Chris Sutter, who turns 19 on Friday.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's really important for everybody. There are top teams, there are teams with a chance of winning a division, and then there's a bunch of guys fighting for seventh and eighth place." -- Kings coach Darryl Sutter, on the big late-season games.
--D Willie Mitchell scored the Kings' first goal, tying a personal best with his fifth goal of the season. Mitchell, arguably the Kings' top stay-at-home defenseman, has been part of an effective pair with rookie D Slava Voynov, and Mitchell has also put forth some offense this month. Mitchell has one goal and four assists in 13 games in March.
--C Anze Kopitar had two assists, and he has team highs of 43 assists and 67 points in 77 games this season. Kopitar had his 16th multi-point game of the season, also a team high. Kopitar has four goals and five assists in his last eight games, and seven goals and nine assists in his last 15 games.
--G Jonathan Quick made 19 saves for his ninth shutout of the season, which set a Kings single-season franchise record. Quick broke the tie with Rogie Vachon, who recorded eight shutouts in the 1976-77 season. It was also the Kings' 10th shutout of the season overall -- G Jonathan Bernier has the other -- which ties a franchise record set in 2000-01. Quick was coming off a 1-0 loss to the Canucks on Monday night.