Kings face Flyers in home opener without star goalie
LOS ANGELES -- The joyous occasion expected when the Los Angeles Kings kick off their 50th anniversary season in the NHL on Friday night at Staples Center against the Philadelphia Flyers will be somewhat muted with the loss of standout goaltender Jonathan Quick.
Quick was placed on injured reserve Thursday in what the Kings believe is a significant injury to his lower back. Quick was hurt in the first period of Wednesday's 2-1 defeat by the San Jose Sharks. Although results of an MRI weren't available, club officials say Quick is week-to-week, meaning the goalie could miss a large chunk of playing time.
Quick, one of the most durable goalies, led all NHL netminders with more than 4,000 minutes logged and was a finalist for the Vezina Trophy last season. Without question, his absence leaves a huge void.
"Jonathan's obviously a special player," Kings coach Darryl Sutter told the media after Thursday's practice. "You just don't replace that. It's no different than any other star player in your lineup. You just don't replace it or expect somebody to play the same way or do the same things, but we also know that we're quite capable at that position."
Jeff Zatkoff, who replaced Quick against the Sharks, is scheduled to start against Philadelphia. Zatkoff saved 15 of 16 shots in the setback to San Jose. He was 4-7 in 11 starts last season for the defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins, recording a postseason win en route to their Stanley Cup title.
The Kings recalled Peter Budaj from Ontario to serve as Zatkoff's backup. Budaj earned a league-high 42 victories and nine shutouts in the AHL last season.
In addition to Quick, the Kings will be without wingers Marian Gaborik and Tanner Pearson. Gaborik will miss at least another month with a broken right foot, while Pearson will serve his fourth and final game of a suspension for an illegal check in an exhibition contest.
The Flyers, who will be making their season debut, are led by center Claude Giroux and right winger Wayne Simmonds. Giroux led the Flyers with 67 points (22 goals, 45 assists) last season, and Simmonds produced 60 points and scored a club-best 32 goals.
The Flyers have high expectations.
"Our goal is to win the Stanley Cup," said Giroux, according to Philly.com. "We know it's a process. We know it's not going to happen overnight. But we're putting in the work, and I think the last three years we've learned a lot. We have a lot of guys that have been here the last three years and every year we keep learning."
Two players who will not play at Los Angeles are defensemen Radko Gudas and Michael Del Zotto. Gudas was suspended six games for interference in a preseason game. Del Zotto sustained a lower body injury in an exhibition contest that will keep him on the shelf four to five weeks.
The Kings will honor their inaugural 1967-68 club, which played the franchise's first game on Oct. 14, 1967 against the Flyers at Long Beach Arena. Fourteen members of the team will be feted in a pregame celebration.