Mathieu Garon started a game and allowed five goals in a Kings loss. Jason LaBarbera started a game and allowed two goals in a Kings victory. Which only really goes to show the deceptive power of numbers.
The Kings will go back to Garon on Sunday, the latest twist in their budding goaltending competition. Coach Andy Murray said Friday that he's simply following a plan he mentally penciled in before the season, but the decision could be seen as a vote of confidence for Garon, given this week's results.
In Thursday's home opener against Phoenix, LaBarbera allowed one soft goal but otherwise seemed solid and held up well as the Kings nursed, and ultimately protected, a one-goal lead in the third period.
But one must look farther down the scoresheet to see why Murray still has high confidence in Garon.
While LaBarbera's basic numbers were better, he didn't face nearly as many quality scoring chances as Garon. In Garon's game, the Kings had to kill 12 power plays, compared to just five the next night.
Then there are the intangibles. The Kings played much more physical against Phoenix on Thursday, while the Stars had their way and frequently had players camped out in front of Garon to create screened shots.
"I think Mathieu Garon played well in Dallas," Murray said. "We were up 4-0 in the first period, but that was deceptive because it easily could have been 4-4. He made some great saves there.
"I like to keep my team to where the guys are always competing, and I like to reward performance."
A message? Murray's line of thinking seemed easy enough to follow Thursday. He had criticized his team's effort Wednesday and the next night, Michael Cammalleri was out of the lineup.
But while Murray didn't go out of his way to praise Cammalleri's recent efforts, and made it clear that Cammalleri's roster spot still isn't entirely secure, Murray also made it clear that he made Cammalleri a healthy scratch Thursday for reasons other than simply a lack of performance.
"It was more of a matchup situation," Murray said. "We looked at how we played the night before and wanted to change that. ... I wouldn't say it was dissatisfaction with Michael's play."
Murray wanted more physical play Thursday, and the 5-foot-9 Cammalleri, a skilled skater, doesn't provide that, so Murray went with players such as Tom Kostopoulos and George Parros instead.
Murray also noted that Cammalleri didn't really play enough Wednesday - nine minutes, 19 seconds, because he's not a penalty killer - to draw fair conclusions, but given the Kings' depth at forward, Cammalleri must be careful not to be viewed as an expendable part.
"Michael is in a battle right now," Murray said. "We want to give him an opportunity to succeed, but he has to play well when he's out there."
Injury report: On an off day for the Kings, Mattias Norstrom (flu) skated on his own but his status for Sunday remains uncertain. Jeff Cowan, who aggravated his groin injury after he got a skate stuck in the ice during Thursday's game, is listed as day to day and Richard Petiot (ribs) will practice today.
There is no change in the status of Valeri Bure, who is listed as having a strained back. Murray said he is unaware of any structural damage in Bure's back that might be causing his lengthy absence from the ice.
Rich Hammond, (818) 713-3611