The Los Angeles Kings are going to have to get by without their starting goaltender, Jonathan Quick, for about three months to start this season.
According to the LA Times, Kings general manager Dean Lombardi estimated that timeline on Wednesday, when it was revealed that Quick had undergone a non-surgical procedure to strengthen a tendon in his injured groin. The 30-year-old Quick suffered the injury during the first period of the Kings’ season-opener against the Sharks on Oct. 12. He was later placed on injured reserve.
Now that the team has an idea of how long they’ll be without their Vezina Trophy finalist, they’ve got to figure out a plan to overcome the absence. In past years, injuries to Quick — including another groin injury in 2013 that caused him to miss two months — have been softened through a wealth of goaltending in Los Angeles. They’ve gotten strong backup performances from guys like Jonathan Bernier, Ben Scrivens and Martin Jones, all of whom eventually went on to become starters elsewhere in the league.
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The team doesn’t seem to have that luxury this year. Backup netminder Jeff Zatkoff has had a rough time between the pipes thus far, putting up an .839 save-percentage and averaging over four goals allowed through the first three games of the season, all losses. In his last game, Zatkoff was pulled after giving up five goals on 16 shots through two periods against the Minnesota Wild. He was replaced by 34-year-old veteran Peter Budaj, who spent almost all of last year in the AHL.
The Kings have expressed faith in Zatkoff and Budaj to help them get through this stretch, and the team is very tight against the salary cap so bringing in an established (and relatively cheap) goaltender to provide relief won’t be easy. With that being said, they’re probably going to need to at least explore outside options to help them clear this hurdle.
You can’t play your way into a playoff spot in the first three months of the season, but you can certainly play yourself out of one. Based off what we’ve seen so far, that’s not out of the question for a Quick-less Kings team, especially in a strong Western Conference.