The Los Angeles Kings fell to 0-3-0 last night, losing 6-3 to the Minnesota Wild despite outshooting them 30-26.
It was not a good night for goalie Jeff Zatkoff, who allowed five goals on just 16 shots and saw his save percentage fall to a ghastly .839. The Kings could be without starter Jonathan Quickfor months, so a shaky Zatkoff is the last thing they need. Their backup is Peter Budaj, who’s spent the last two seasons in the AHL. Zatkoff himself only has 31 career NHL stars.
“There’s nothing you can do about it,” head coach Darryl Sutter said of Quick’s injury, per LA Kings Insider. “There’s not one thing. I said it when Jonathan got hurt. There’s not one thing that I can do about it or anybody can do about it, right? You expect the guys that are in there to play as well as they can, and if they play as well as they can, that’s good. I mean, heck, that’s what you do, right?”
Many expect GM Dean Lombardi to add a goalie via trade. But that begs the obvious question: who’s he going to get? Ondrej Pavelec seems to be a popular answer, given he’s in the AHL after the Jets waived him. Here’s the thing about Pavelec, though — there was a reason the Jets waived him. His career NHL save percentage is .907. It was .904 last season. Perhaps he could turn it around with a new team, one that was better structurally than the Jets, but only perhaps.
At this point in the season, if a team has a good backup goalie, it’s not going to just give him away. Because backup goalies are important. They can be the difference between making and missing the playoffs. Would the Philadelphia Flyers have made them last year without Michal Neuvirth? Probably not. Neuvirth and Steve Mason are both pending unrestricted free agents, but if Flyers GM Ron Hextall is going to trade one of them, is he going to do it now? Not for nothing, that’s for sure.
The Kings’ next game is Thursday in Dallas against the high-scoring Stars. After that, they return home for three games against Vancouver, Columbus, and Nashville, then it’s off to St. Louis and Chicago to close out the month.
“Obviously it’s a tough situation,” said Budaj. “Jonathan is arguably the best goalie in the world. We miss him, but I think me and Zats are trying to do the best we can.”
New-look Penguins play first game since trade deadline on NBCSN
Hockey fans get their first post-trade deadline glance at the new-look Penguins on Wednesday. Then again, it’s also true that later versions of the Penguins will look different from the group that faces the Kings on NBCSN at 10:30 p.m. ET (stream here).
Penguins roll out new trade deadline additions in these lineups — for now
Like many other NHL coaches, Mike Sullivan likes to tinker with his combinations. Injuries forced Sullivan to do so anyway this season, and the Penguins’ trade deadline investments now give him a plethora of options. When/if certain players come back, the variety will only grow.
Let’s go forward line by forward line based on NHL.com’s projected combos for Wednesday, since that’s where Pittsburgh made acquisitions.
As new-look as the Penguins feel, there seems to be warm-and-fuzzy feelings for the reunion of Crosby and Sheary. Personally, I never understood why Pittsburgh broke them up in the first place. (Especially if the answer is troublingly “to afford bad defenseman Jack Johnson.”)
“He brings a speed element,” Sullivan said of Sheary. “He can finish. He’s good in traffic. A lot of attributes that Conor brings to the table are complementary to Sid.”
Sheary can think the game at a reasonable level with Crosby, and the early returns on Zucker indicate the same. (On paper, Zucker seems like a no-brainer fit for Crosby, but in reality not everyone clicks with 87.)
Still, there are a number of different factors that could break these fellows up. What if Jake Guentzelbeats the timeline for recovery from his shoulder surgery, at least for the playoffs? Will Penguins eventually want a right-handed shot with Crosby instead of two other lefties?
This seems like a good mix overall, at least to start, though.
Trade deadline additions make two-thirds of this third line, and the potential is interesting. Simon ranks as the most feasible candidate to move up, possibly with Crosby again. While Marleau ranks as a bigger name, Rodrigues stands out as a fascinating wild card.
People have been noting Rodrigues’ potential as a hidden gem for some time.
Rodrigues asking out should have people ringing the phones; his shooting talent isn't great but his shot impacts on his teammates are very strong. He deserves more minutes. pic.twitter.com/aSYcR6XjM6
The sheer variety of useful players in the Penguins’ top nine is really something, especially when you realize that Jared McCann could end up being a more regular fit as third-line center. Nick Bjugstad already feels like old news, considering the revolving door of Penguins forwards, yet he’s another interesting player if health eventually permits.
Naturally, injuries have been a factor for the Penguins’ defense (and also goalies including Matt Murray). Moving past players who have worked past injuries like Letang and Schultz, Pittsburgh has some significant blueliners on the shelf. It’s possible Brian Dumoulin may return with time to shake off rust before the playoffs, while rookie revelation John Marino is recovery from surgery after a wayward puck broke bones in his cheek.
In other words … the Penguins’ defense could continue to look quite different as things go along, much like their forward groups.
Despite all that turbulence, the Penguins figure to be a formidable opponent, particularly after stocking up with Zucker, Sheary, Marleau, and Rodrigues in recent times. Catch your first look at that new-look group against the Kings on Wednesday on NBCSN.
Welcome to “My Favorite Goal,” a regular feature from NBC Sports where our writers, personalities and NHL players remember the goals that have meant the most to them. These goals have left a lasting impression and there’s a story behind each one.
The road to gold was a tough one for Canada’s men’s team at the 2010 Olympics. Faced with the pressure of winning on home soil in Vancouver, the team finished second in their group to the U.S. and found themselves needing to stay alive in the qualification playoffs. From there they topped Germany, knocked out Russia, and edged Slovakia to set up a gold medal final against the Americans, who beat them 5-3 in the final preliminary game.
What once was a 2-0 Canada lead evaporated and overtime was needed after Zach Parise‘s tying goal with 24 seconds left in the third period. It was then in overtime that Crosby called for a pass from Jarome Iginla and beat Ryan Miller to win gold.
The defenseman, who began the press conference by thanking the training staffs of the Blues and Ducks, will not play again this season, according to general manager Doug Armstrong. While a comeback this season is out of reach, Bouwmeester has not closed the door on his future.
“There’s been a lot going on,” he said. “I think that’s something I’m going to definitely have to evaluate, but to say I’ve done that, I wouldn’t say fully yet. There’s decisions I’m going to have to make. That’ll come later.”
“We talked about longer term things that may or may not happen and both feel that it’s February,” added Armstrong. “You don’t have to make long term decisions at this point. He’s going to take time and again back in with his family and get around the team and he’ll address those things as the summer progresses.”
Bouwmeester, who will turn 37 in September, is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. He was revived with defibrillator and quickly taken from Honda Center to a local hospital. He later had an implantable cardioverter defibrillator procedure to restore the normal rhythm of his heart.
“I’m at the point now where I feel pretty good,” Bouwmeester said. “That’s kind of the weird thing about this is you go from something that happened totally out of the blue and unexpected to being in the hospital for a couple of days and then now there’s some restrictions as to what I can do.”
Everything about the timing fits the soap opera narrative of “As the Maple Leaf turns …”
Toronto lost Muzzin for a month in the first game after signing him to a contract extension.
It’s also the first game following a trade deadline that mixed the good with the bad. On one hand, it turns out that keeping Tyson Barrie was wise, warts and all. On the other, GM Kyle Dubas’ critics will argue that he still didn’t do enough.
Oh yeah, the Maple Leafs follow up this potentially devastating injury with an enormous Thursday game against the Panthers in Florida.
If you want a glimpse at Toronto’s confidence level in certain players, consider how Sheldon Keefe deployed Sandin on Tuesday. Through two periods, Sandin received just 5:27 time on ice. Once it was clear Muzzin wouldn’t return, Sandin’s ice time skyrocketed to 9:34 during the third period alone.
Dicey stuff, but what’s the best approach, Zen-like, or otherwise? What’s a good mantra for the Leafs going forward?
Accepting reality of the Maple Leafs defense with Muzzin out, and considering Panthers
Despite wildly different approaches and markets, the Maple Leafs and Panthers boast notably similar strengths and weaknesses. After all, they are the only teams in the NHL who’ve scored and allowed 200+ goals so far this season.
So maybe the Maple Leafs should embrace the perception of their most prominent, healthy defenseman in Tyson Barrie, and their perceived identity as a team that needs to outscore their problems, in general?
There’s also the potential silver lining of realizing that players like Sandin and Liljegren might be further along in their respective developments than Toronto realized. Interestingly, Dubas sort of touched on this during his trade deadline presser, before Muzzin was injured.
” … We need to see how our own guys develop,” Dubas said, via Pension Plan Puppets’ transcript. “In a perfect world your own guys develop and quell your concerns you have about the roster and that people on the outside may have about them as well.”
Both Sandin and Liljegren carry pedigree as first-rounders, and have produced some offenseat the AHL level. Perhaps they can bring almost as much to the table as they risk taking away with mistakes?
Obstacles, and gauntlets thrown down on top Maple Leafs
When you dig deep on the Maple Leafs’ numbers, you get a more complicated look at their hit-and-miss defense. Either way, they need better goaltending going forward — even if that leads to awkward choices.
If patterns continue, there will only be more twists and turns for the Maple Leafs. Maybe they can end up better after facing all of these challenges, but either way, it doesn’t look easy, and might not always be pretty.