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Jones, Scrivens step up for Kings in Quick's absence

by Curtis Zupke

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Before the Los Angeles Kings had goaltenders falling out of their pockets, captain Dustin Brown remembers the dark days.

From 2006-08, Los Angeles started 11 goalies, from the four-game Yutaka Fukufuji era to veteran Sean Burke. Not to disparage those players, but Brown recalls the instability before Jonathan Quick arrived.

"I think I've always said that was our biggest change," Brown said. "With Quickie coming in and the level he's played at kind of speaks for itself, but I also think a byproduct of that is the mentality around the team, because when you have a solidified No. 1 goalie, that goes a long way, [and] the uncertainty of not knowing who's going to be in net for you every night can have a negative effect on the team, and the morale, and how you play in front of a guy.

"It has an effect on your team when you go to a pregame meal or you go to the rink and you ask, 'Who's starting?' and they don't know."


Brown, Quick and Anze Kopitar are the only Kings remaining from those mid-2000s seasons, and they can speak to how much it has changed, because Los Angeles has so much depth in goal it can lose Quick to injury and not miss a beat.

Since Quick went out with a Grade 2 groin strain Nov. 12, Ben Scrivens and Martin Jones have combined to go 12-2-3. Jones on Tuesday became the first Kings goalie to start his career 6-0-0, and he has an 0.82-goals against average and .972 save percentage.

Scrivens went 6-1-3 in place of Quick but now has a spot on the bench watching Jones. The Kings were previously deep with Quick and former backup Jonathan Bernier, but reaching this far into the bag is new for the franchise.

Much of it can be explained by the defense in front of Scrivens and Jones. The 200-foot game the Kings are playing equals and might even one-up that of the 2012 Stanley Cup championship team. Los Angeles has allowed two or fewer goals in 19 of its past 20 games and allowed a first-period goal once in that span.

So how much of it is defense, and how much of it is goaltending?

"It's a combination of both," goaltending coach Bill Ranford said. "You need your goalie to make the big saves at the right time, and you have to play solid defense. I think this group here, going back to the [former coach] Terry Murray days, has taken a lot of pride in their defense, and that hasn't changed."

Ben Scrivens
Goalie - LAK
RECORD: 7-3-4
GAA: 1.66 | SVP: 0.941
Scrivens was a low-key acquisition from the Toronto Maple Leafs whose arrival didn't stop Los Angeles from giving Mathieu Garon a look in training camp.

Jones has since grabbed the spotlight with statistics that can't be ignored and a sudden-success story that was years in the making. In his 2007-08 draft year, Jones was the backup to Daniel Spence for the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League and was not selected despite an 18-8-1 record and 2.12 GAA.

"The biggest thing you hear [with undrafted players] … they just don't get the views," Ranford said. "If you're scouting staff doesn't luck out and catch them enough times, it's hard to draft a guy in limited viewings. That was kind of our scenario.

"[We were] just seeing a guy that already had a real strong technical package and potential, and we were in a situation where we had a hole to fill, and we weren't able to get anybody in the draft that year, so we looked at him and brought him to camp."

Signed by Los Angeles as a free agent in October 2008, Jones went 45-5-4 with seven shutouts and a 2.08 GAA for the Hitmen. He spent the next three seasons with the Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey League and served as Jake Allen's backup for Canada at the 2010 World Junior Championship.

Kings coach Darryl Sutter also puts stock into the time Jones spent on the practice squad with Los Angeles during the past few Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"It's not like he's a guy that just showed up," Sutter said. "He's just a guy that didn't come into it until he was 19 or 20, so he didn't get the recognition as a high [draft] pick or a recognizable goalie."

Jones, 23, has been unflappable on and off the ice. He grew up around an NHL rink because his father, Harvey, is an executive with the Vancouver Canucks.

"He's been on quality ice his whole life," teammate Willie Mitchell said.

Martin Jones
Goalie - LAK
RECORD: 6-0-0
GAA: 0.82 | SVP: 0.972
Like Quick, Jones reveals little emotion, at least in his media interactions. Even after a win in his NHL debut against the Anaheim Ducks, Jones was understated and professional.

"That's his demeanor," Mitchell said. "Inside, I'm sure there’s a lot of it there. We're all different people. We show it in different ways. [But] he definitely cracked more of a smile than he normally has on his face."

Kings general manager Dean Lombardi is likely smiling inside because they've brought Jones along in time for him to be Quick's backup next season. Scrivens is set to become an unrestricted free agent and can ask a high salary that won't fit in Los Angeles' financial plans.

For Jones, who signed a two-year extension in September, it's a small sample-size of games. But it's built trust with his teammates.

"I hope so," Jones said. "That's my job. I don't want to come in and be a liability. I want to come in and help these guys win hockey games."

With a 3-0 victory Tuesday against the Edmonton Oilers, Jones became the third goaltender in NHL history to record three shutouts in his first six starts, according to Elias Sports Bureau. The others were Flat Walsh in 1928-29 for the New York Americans and Frank Brimsek in 1938-39 for the Boston Bruins.

Quick. Bernier. Scrivens. Jones. Even former Kings prospect Jeff Zatkoff is 5-2-0 with the Pittsburgh Penguins in his rookie season. Ranford admits he's had it good with Kim Dillabaugh, who oversees goalie development for Los Angeles.

"Kim and I have been very fortunate to work with a lot of good kids," Ranford said. "When you see them go on to the next level and do well, you're excited for them. Except when they play us."

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