If you were unsure of what the Kings were getting in goaltender Ben Scrivens, line up right behind coach Darryl Sutter.
Scrivens, acquired as an afterthought in the Jonathan Bernier to Toronto trade, has been forced into an important role earlier than expected after a groin injury will sideline star netminder Jonathan Quick four to six weeks.
“I’d never seen him play til we got him in training camp, so I couldn’t tell you,” Sutter stated in his early assessment of Scrivens. “Just go off what guys in Toronto said and guys who had him in the American League and go from there.”
Scrivens has wasted no time making the most of the opportunity being numero uno for the Kings. In his first three starts after the Quick injury, Scrivens has picked up wins against the entire New York Metropolitan area.
After a come from behind victory on Long Island, Scrivens followed that up with impressive road shutouts against the Devils and Rangers over the weekend.
“Obviously extremely fortunate and happy with how things have gone in the first two, but it’s a long road and a lot of work left to do,” remarked Scrivens after the Kings’ 2-0 victory at Prudential Center, the first of his back to back shutouts.
That work being put in by Scrivens has already paid huge dividends for the Canadian-born netminder and his team. He became the fastest goalie in Kings history to record two shutouts for the franchise, before adding a third in another superb showing under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden on Sunday night.
Dwight King, who scored the game winner in the first of two rematches of the 2012 Cup Finals, has full confidence in his new starting goalie.
“I think everybody trusts him back there. It’s nice to see him build confidence in himself. The more he plays the more comfortable he’ll feel.”
Having been used to Quick as a safety net between the pipes, there will be an adjustment period as his teammates get used to a new goalie manning the crease. King does not believe it will be as much of an issue for him as it is the defensemen.
“Probably a little more on the defensive side, maybe they talk a little bit differently. As forwards you try to help out no matter who the goalie is in net.”
As he looks to establish himself as a starting goaltender in the NHL, Scrivens will continue to prepare for games like he always has.
“You should be preparing (like you’re going to play). As a backup that’s the hardest thing to do… you work hard and you want your efforts to be recognized and show that you’re ready.”
In terms of the workload that falls upon a starting goalie, Scrivens referenced his experience in the American League where three games in three nights are the norm, with bus trips sandwiched in between.
Sutter also knows how important it is to have a backup goaltender who is capable of filling in without there being a drop off. He used Jamie McLennan as an example from when he was head coach of the Calgary Flames, noting that if it weren’t for the play of McLennan the Flames would not have been able to make the playoffs in the 2003-2004 season.
At some point the coach will also give new backup Martin Jones some games, but Sutter knows how crucial every game can be.
“We’ll get the other guy in, but you’ve also got to remember we’re in a division where every point counts. (The game in New Jersey) is our 20th game and we’re on a 103, 104 point clip so the goalie has got to win games.”
In a country where countless people move to Los Angeles for their chance at success, the opportunity has fallen into the lap of Scrivens to show what he can do. Ask the netminder and he will tell you he is ready.
“There are only so many chances you get at this level so you have to ready, you never know when it’s going to come.”