LA Kings Are Showing Signs Of Shaken Confidence, Frustration, Tension

LA Kings Defenseman Drew Doughty
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography

LOS ANGELES — After an embarrassing 4-0 loss to the Detroit Red Wings in front of a sell-out crowd of 19,230 fans at Staples Center on Thursday night, one has to wonder if the team unity and strength of character that the Los Angeles Kings have become so well known for since they won the Stanley Cup in 2012 has begun to fray.

Indeed, the frustration and tension seemed palpable as soon as the game ended.

As soon as the final horn sounded, Kings players skated to goaltender Jeff Zatkoff, as they usually do with whomever is in goal. But Zatkoff, who had been victimized by blatant turnovers and blown coverages by Kings skaters on all four Detroit goals, appeared to want to have nothing to do with that. In fact, he skated straight to the bench—quicker than usual—and into the dressing room, appearing to completely ignore his teammates.

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LA Kings: No Quick? No Problem

Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick, shown here
during practice at the Toyota Sports Center
in El Segundo, California.
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography

EL SEGUNDO, CA — Looking back to a cold, dark night in Buffalo, New York on November 12, 2013, Los Angels Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick suffered a grade 2 groin strain in a game against the Buffalo Sabres, forcing him to miss significant time.

Media, pundits and fans—just about everyone predicted that the Kings would go into a tailspin without their superstar goaltender. But what happened next surprised shocked the hockey world, as Ben Scrivens and Martin Jones stepped up to backstop the Kings to points in 17 of their next 19 games, putting the Kings in position to go on to win the 2014 Stanley Cup Championship.

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Jeff Zatkoff Has Come Full Circle With LA Kings

Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jeff Zatkoff, shown here during
their 2016 Training Camp at the Toyota Sports Center
in El Segundo, California.
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography

EL SEGUNDO, CA — For Los Angeles Kings faithful, if the name “Jeff Zatkoff” doesn’t ring a bell, beyond the fact that he played for the 2016 Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins, it should.

Indeed, Zatkoff got his start in professional hockey with the Kings, who selected him in the third round (74th overall) of the 2006 National Hockey League Entry Draft. But that was also the year that they selected goaltender Jonathan Bernier in the first round (11th overall), and one year prior, they selected Jonathan Quick in the third round (72nd overall).

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LA Kings Are Targeting Goalies In 2016 NHL Draft…But That Probably Doesn’t Mean What You Think

2016 NHL DRAFT: The biggest need in the Los Angeles Kings player pipeline is in goal, with only one drafted goaltender prospect in their development system who is a long way away from the professional ranks. This story will look at the current situation and how it impacts their’ approach to the 2016 NHL Draft.


LOS ANGELES — When you look up and down at the Los Angeles Kings system, Jonathan Quick is firmly entrenched as their number one goaltender. But with Jhonas Enroth heading to unrestricted free agency, the job of backup goaltender is expected to fall to Peter Budaj, who lit up the American Hockey League this season as the best goaltender in the league with the Ontario Reign.

But behind Budaj, the only prospect the Kings have in goal is 20-year-old Alec Dillon, who they selected in the fifth round (150th overall) of the 2014 National Hockey League Draft.

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2012-13 Will Be A Big Test For Los Angeles Kings Goaltender Prospect Martin Jones

LA Kings goaltender prospect Martin Jones will be under the
spotlight as the clear-cut number one goalie for the AHL’s
Manchester Monarchs this season.
(click to view larger image)
Photo: Steve Babineau/Manchester Monarchs

LOS ANGELES — It was not so long ago that goaltender Martin Jones of the Western Hockey League’s Calgary Hitmen was passed over in the 2008 National Hockey League Entry Draft.

Talk about discouraging.

But scouts for the Los Angeles Kings were impressed by his play—18-8-1 record, 2.12 goals-against average (GAA), .911 save percentage, and one shutout—in the 2007-08 season. That earned him an invitation to the Kings Development Camp in July 2008, where he made an even bigger impression, so much so that they signed him to a three-year, entry-level contract on October 2, 2008.

Jones went on to shine in goal for the Hitmen for two more seasons before making the jump to the Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey League (Kings’ primary minor league affiliate), splitting time with netminder Jeff Zatkoff, also a Kings prospect at the time, in 2010-11 and 2011-12.

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