Jonathan Quick was the first goalie off the ice at the Kings’ morning skate at Toyota Sports Center. No surprise that he will start and Martin Jones will be the backup. That’s been the case in six of the Kings’ last seven games.
Speaking of backup goalies, there will be another mini-reunion at Staples Center tonight. Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi got plenty of ink yesterday (including here), and rightfully so after playing an integral role in the Kings’ Stanley Cup run in 2012.
Pens goaltender Jeff Zatkoff never appeared a game in a Kings uniform, but he has plenty of friends in the home dressing room. Zatkoff, who’s expected to back up Marc-Andre Fleury tonight, was at one time a teammate with Trevor Lewis, Alec Martinez, Jake Muzzin, Dwight King, Jordan Nolan, Tyler Toffoli and Jones at AHL Manchester. The 26-year-old was a third-round draft pick out of Miami of Ohio in 2006 by the Kings. He was buried on the depth chart behind Jonathan Quick and Jonathan Bernier. In hindsight, he might have had to wait until this year to play an NHL game in Los Angeles.
1 p.m. update: Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma told reporters that Zatkoff is starting tonight.
Instead, Zatkoff signed with the Penguins in 2012 and spent last season as the number one goalie at AHL Wilkes-Barre. He played his first NHL game this season (back on Nov. 2) and shut out the Columbus Blue Jackets. No Penguins goalie had ever recorded a shutout in his NHL debut.
“He’s a quality goalie,” King said of Zatkoff. “He was an AHL all-star. When you’ve got that kind of resume, you get an opportunity somewhere.”
Zatkoff has an 8-2-1 record with a 2.80 goals-against average and a .903 save percentage in 11 games this season.
“All the goalies I played with in the minors made the NHL,” King said. “That bodes well on their drafting and development in Manchester. It’s nice to see him get a shot.”
It was easier to get the Kings players talking about Zatkoff than about Sochi-bound centers Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin.
“We’re not worried about Crosby and Malkin,” head coach Darryl Sutter said. “We’re used to centermen playing well.”
Crosby (27 goals, 74 points in 53 games) and Malkin (14 goals, 51 points in 42 games) rank first and fourth, respectively, in the NHL in points per game. Nope, nothing to see there.
FWIW: Penguins right wing James Neal ranks third in the league in points per game. Left wing Chris Kunitz ranks 15th.