When Stanley Cup winning goaltender Jonathan Quick suffered a Grade 2 groin injury last week there was cause for concern. The Los Angeles Kings’ playoff hopes quickly became questionable – without the number one guy between the pipes, L.A. would have a difficult time remaining in the playoff picture in the NHL’s highly competitive Pacific Division.
The Kings have not struggled without Quick thanks to backup Ben Scrivens who was acquired last offseason in a deal that sent highly touted netminder Jonathan Bernier to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Scrivens has been solid for the Kings since he’s been called upon to hold down the fort in Quick’s absence.
Quick was injured in the overtime portion of the first game of a 4-tilt road trip through the Eastern Conference against the Buffalo Sabres. The Kings lost the game in a shootout. However, since the SO loss to the league’s worst team, Los Angeles have held firm with newcomer Ben Scrivens manning the blue paint between the pipes. Over the last three games with the backup in control, the Kings have gone 3-0-0.
Scrivens is not only winning, he’s doing it decisively. The former Leaf is fresh off a sweep of New York area clubs the New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers. After beating the Isles 3-2, the Kings with Scrivens in goal then posted shutouts over the Devils and Rangers.
The Kings current starter deserves praise for his accomplishments. Having being booted out of Toronto in favour of the more pedigree possessing Bernier, there weren’t many in Ontario’s capital sad to see Scrivens go, but he’s proving everyone wrong.
The 2012 Stanley Cup champions return home for three straight contests against beatable teams. The Stamkos-less Tampa Bay Lightning visit Staples Center tomorrow, followed by a Thursday night showdown against one of the NHL’s most offensively challenged clubs, the New Jersey Devils. Both games are winnable. Saturday, the hot-starting Colorado Avalanche stroll into Los Angeles to test themselves against a Kings team that has one regulation loss in its last nine games. It’s a statement game for the Kings, who will be used as a measuring-stick opponent by the Avs as they try to define their own identity and prove their hot start was not lucky.