EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – Was the impressive NHL debut of goalie Martin Jones enough to earn him another start for the Los Angeles Kings?
It was difficult to tell if Jones would be back in goal Saturday night, when the Kings play the New York Islanders. Jones left the ice first at the morning skate, but usual starter Ben Scrivens wasn't far behind. Kings coach Darryl Sutter doesn't reveal his starting goalie, so it was anybody's guess.
Thrown into a rivalry game against an Anaheim Ducks team that hasn't lost in regulation on home ice, Jones made 26 saves and stopped all nine shooters in a 3-2 shootout win Tuesday in his first NHL game.
Scrivens has gone 6-1-3 in place of injured Jonathan Quick (groin). The first win of that stretch came against the Islanders on Nov. 14. Sutter has lately been stingy with the praise of Scrivens and said he's seen cracks in his game.
"I think he's been off and on lately," Sutter said. "To be able to win on a consistent basis and play at a high level is not just the physical, it's the mental part of it, and when you're not used to doing it, it trickles into your game."
It wouldn't seem likely Sutter would give Jones another start, but few thought Jones would start against Anaheim. If Jones does get the nod, at least one Islanders player is familiar with him.
Defenseman Thomas Hickey, a former Kings prospect, was roommates with Jones when they were with the Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey League. Hickey, in fact, said he got emotional when he watched Jones against Anaheim.
"It was stressful for me," Hickey said. "I don't think I've been that nervous watching a hockey game ever. It's funny. Just to see him get that opportunity, I know he's waited and prepared. I really shouldn't have been nervous. I know he's capable of doing it. It's pretty special seeing all the hard work that he's put in and getting the chance to do it."
Hickey spent about five training camps with L.A. before the emergence of Slava Voynov. Voynov's development during the 2011-12 season allowed the Kings to part with Hickey, who was claimed off waivers by the Islanders in January 2013.
"For sure, I want to show them what I can do, and we need to win right now," Hickey said. "The motivation's sort of all you need as far as what goes with the record and our struggles lately. But [there's also ] a little personal incentive playing against these guys."
Kevin Poulin is expected to start in goal, and New York coach Jack Capuano said Brock Nelson would be back in the lineup in place of Peter Regin.
Kings defenseman Matt Greene and forward Trevor Lewis have been skating with the team but don't appear to be ready to return from injury.
Here are the projected lineups for the Islanders and Kings:
Thomas Vanek – John Tavares – Kyle Okposo
Michael Grabner – Frans Nielsen – Josh Bailey
Pierre-Marc Bouchard – Brock Nelson – Cal Clutterbuck
Matt Martin – Casey Cizikas – Colin McDonald
Andrew MacDonald – Travis Hamonic
Thomas Hickey – Calvin de Haan
Aaron Ness – Matt Carkner
Scratched: Peter Regin, Radek Martinek, Eric Boulton.
Injured: Brian Strait (upper body), Evgeni Nabokov (groin), Lubomir Visnovsky (concussion)
Dwight King – Anze Kopitar – Jeff Carter
Dustin Brown – Jarret Stoll – Justin Williams
Jordan Nolan – Mike Richards- Tyler Toffoli
Kyle Clifford – Colin Fraser – Matt Frattin
Jake Muzzin – Drew Doughty
Robyn Regehr – Slava Voynov
Willie Mitchell – Alec Martinez
Injured: Matt Greene (upper body), Trevor Lewis (lower body), Jonathan Quick (groin)
Scratched: Daniel Carcillo, Linden Vey, Jeff Schultz