Los Angeles Kings manager Dean Lombardi faced a difficult situation with goaltender Jonathan Bernier. Lombardi knew that Bernier was ready to become a starter in the NHL, as did everyone else in hockey. But, with Jonathan Quick at the helm in Los Angeles there was no room for Bernier to fully develop to his maximum potential.
This reality resulted in Lombardi trading the first player he ever drafted as manager of the Kings to the Toronto Maple Leafs this past summer. In doing so, Lombardi potentially weakened Los Angeles' depth at the position by losing a player of Bernier's talent level in exchange for a largely unproven commodity in Ben Scrivens.
Of course, Scrivens' workload would be minimal with Quick in goal, as the Vezina Trophy finalist had appeared in nearly 75 percent of games in each of the last four seasons. That is, unless some kind of injury limited Quick's ability to play, which happened last Tuesday when the goalie sustained a Grade 2 groin strain that could result in his missing six weeks.
This development forced Scrivens to the forefront and has been working out rather nicely. Since taking over as the Kings No. 1 goaltender, Scrivens has allowed a total of two goals over the span of three games. More impressively, the netminder has registered consecutive shutouts and was named the NHL's first star of the week on Monday morning. In total, Scrivens has stopped 86 of 88 shots faced over that period of time.
The context of these starts needs to be taken into account, as Scrivens has faced three Metropolitan Division opponents in the New York Islanders, Rangers and New Jersey Devils. The Devils and Rangers both rank in the bottom-five for "goals for," while the Islanders had been held to two goals or less in four of five games entering the contest. That doesn't take away from Scrivens' ability to perform, but it's important to consider before drumming up the potential of a goaltender controversy in Los Angeles.
With that being said, Quick has performed poorly this season, having registered a .905 save percentage through 16 appearances. The folks over at Jewels from the Crown attempted to analyze Quick's performance this season and came to the following conclusion about the netminder:
If Quick has definitively been anything in his career, it is a league-average starting goalie. However, his extremes are so extreme that it's tough to get a read on his true talent level.
In a nutshell, Scrivens has an opportunity. As we have seen in countless situations, an opportunity is one of the most valuable assets to an athlete. Whether Scrivens usurps the throne from Quick remains to be seen, but his exceptional start presents the beginnings of an interesting situation in LA.