Goaltending has been a major issue for the Los Angeles Kings for years now. The team vastly overperformed last season, all things considered, clinching a surprising playoff berth. However, it became clear that they just weren’t good enough to compete at the highest level, at least until they solved those defensive woes.
The Kings entered the season with a big question mark over their heads. Would they be the same ever-struggling team they’ve been for years now? Was last season’s playoff berth a fluke? Or are they finally ready to get over the hump and sit at the big boy’s table once again?
While there’s not one answer to that question, and maybe the truth is something in between, one thing’s clear: They need to address their goalie situation, especially considering how much money they’ve committed to Jonathan Quick and Calvin Petersen for the upcoming campaign.
Kings Need More Consistency
Cal Petersen, one of the best Iowa NHL players of all time, was supposed to be the future of the organization. He got a big extension and was poised to break out as he entered his age-27 season. However, some struggles early in the campaign made him lose his job to 36-year-old legend Quick, who turned the clock and was having one of the best seasons of his career.
But, as expected, Father Time eventually came on knocking on the door again, and Quick regressed in a worrisome way, all but proving that he was never going to be that same lockdown stopper he used to be. Petersen and Quick ended up splitting time, but they were up and down throughout the whole season.
That kind of roller-coaster situation isn’t good for any team. You never know what version of the Kings you were getting a night in and night out, and that has a lot to do with how their recently-extended goalie failed to live up to the expectations.
It was his job to lose, and Quick was supposed to back him up and provide some depth. Expecting a 36-year-old goalie to be the team’s savior is as risky as it’s unrealistic, and instead, it should be the 28-year-old player stepping up and taking the reins for a franchise that’s looking to resurge.
This Should Be Petersen’s Final Shot
All things considered, the Kings should still give Calvin Petersen a final shot to prove his worth. He signed a $15 million extension and made the front office look quite bad last season, but let’s not forget that most players in his position enter their prime at 27 years old, more or less. So, while he’s not a budding, up-and-coming star, he’s still young enough to still be a star in this league.
Also, it’s not all about the money but about the future. As great as Jonathan Quick has been throughout his career, his days in the National Hockey League should be numbered, and it’s not like he’s been a lockdown goalie as of late, either.
Quick should be there to offer some veteran leadership and be a more than serviceable backup, but banking on him to lead them to the playoffs won’t be a long-term solution for the Kings. They need Petersen to either break out and make the most of that new contract or finally prove that he’s just not good enough and allow them to plan and look ahead to the future with a different goalie on the net.
Petersen has shown glimpses of greatness every now and then. The physical tools are there, and so is the team’s confidence in his services, even if Quick outplayed him and beat him for the starting spot last season. So, the veteran goalie should agree to step aside and let Cal try and take over once and for all. For real this time.
How Good Can The Kings Be?
While some believe last season’s success was a bit of a mirage, it seems like the Los Angeles Kings have a good-enough core to at least make a push for the final playoff spot in the West. Drew Doughty can’t be any more inconsistent than he was last season, so that should only make them better.
However, it’s not like it’s going to be a cakewalk. The Vancouver Canucks and St. Louis Blues figure to be their biggest threats to snatch a playoff berth away from them, so it’s not like there’s a lot of margin for error. They’re projected to sit around .500, and that’s not always good enough to make the promised land.
Once again, the Kings will need to improve on the defensive side of the ice if they want to go back to the postseason, and it seems like 92.6 points aren’t gonna cut it this time. Hopefully, they’ll figure out their goalie situation and shock the world again.