On November 12 in Buffalo, the rock of the Los Angeles Kings, Jonathan Quick, left the game against the Sabres with a groin injury. Kings fans held their collective breath and were more than a little disappointed when it was revealed that he would miss the next 4 to 6 weeks. Suddenly, the one player who carried the Kings through so much over the past few years was gone and a new netminder was called upon to fill some very big skates.
For the doubters who suggested that the season was over or that the team should have never traded
Jonathan Bernier were in for a shocking surprise.
While he did play well in the limited time he was Quick’s official backup, Ben Scrivens took the role of interim starter and ran with it.
Scrivens would start the Los Angeles’s next 10 games posting a 6-1-3 record with a sultry 1.26 goals-against average and a save percentage of .954. During that stretch, the former Leafs netminder would post back-to-back shutouts while not allowing a single goal in a span of 211:19.
After opening December with a home-ice win over St. Louis, Ben Scrivens was given the night off as his Kings traveled to Anaheim to take on the hated Ducks the very next night.
December 3 marked the NHL debut of Martin Jones. While some fans were excited to see the rookie get his first taste of action with the big club, many (yours truly included) were reluctant to see Jones begin his career against the offensively-fueled Ducks in their home building where they had yet to lose in regulation.
Whoever was expecting an Anaheim blowout on this night, was wrong. Dead wrong.
Despite allowing a pair of goals, Martin Jones led his Kings to the shootout where he turned away all nine shots he faced in a marathon shootout en route to his first-career win. In his next three outings, Jones would allow just a single goal – and in fairness that came while the Kings were killing a 5-on-3.
He hasn’t played as much as Scrivens had but Martin Jones is quickly cementing his role in Los Angeles which, like or not, will ultimately lead to a conflict once Quick returns from injury. Then again, that is an issue most teams would love to have.
In his four games, Jones has sported a needle-thin goals-against average of 0.75 while putting together a .927 save percentage, back-to-back shutouts and 177:16 without allowing a goal. If that weren’t enough, Jones is also coming off two-straight games where he was named First Star.
When Jonathan Quick went down with an injury, the so-called experts predicted Los Angeles’s demise. But it hasn’t happened that way – and while the Kings’ defense certainly deserves their share of credit, it is the play of Ben Scrivens and now Martin Jones not only keeping the Kings afloat but leading them to the top of the NHL’s overall standings.
I love Jonathan Quick and will be very happy to see him return but for a team that only six years ago had a goaltending department that was a league-wide laughing stock, it is gratifying, nay, vindicating, to see this same organization boast one of the league’s best, if not the best, goaltending units.
The scouting staff, general manager Dean Lombardi and goaltending coach Bill Ranford all deserve a plethora of credit for the strong state of goaltending in Los Angeles and because of Scrivens and Jones, morale could not be much higher than it is right now.
Ben Scrivens and Martin Jones: the Festivus Miracles for the Los Angeles Kings.