Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender and Detroit native Jeff Zatkoff admits he grew up watching the Detroit Red Wings play at Joe Louis Arena and dreaming of one day playing in the NHL. As a backup to Marc-Andre Fleury this season, the 2006 third-round pick (No. 74) of the Los Angeles Kings has already realized his dream of becoming an NHL player.
But a new chapter in his hockey career could be added Saturday, when Zatkoff is expected to start for the Penguins against his hometown Red Wings.
"I think that would be a special moment for me," Zatkoff told the Penguins website. "As a kid, you grow up going to those games and dream of playing in the NHL."
Zatkoff played at Miami University (Ohio) and the past four seasons in the American Hockey League. But with Pittsburgh backup goaltender Thomas Vokoun out long-term with a blood clot, Zatkoff was promoted to the No. 2 spot behind Fleury. Zatkoff has won his past four games and has a 4-2-0 record this season with a 2.80 goals-against average and .901 save percentage.
Zatkoff hasn't started since Nov. 30, when he made a career-high 39 saves in a 5-1 win against the Florida Panthers. But playing in the arena he frequented as a child would be extra special.
"That's the building I've seen most of those games in," Zatkoff said. "That's where as a kid I envisioned myself playing."