Connect with us

LA Kings

Kings Have a Goalie Battle Down the Stretch

His starts aren’t amazing this season, but the Kings win with him in net.



It seems so long ago that the Los Angeles Kings had a goalie crisis. 

On Nov. 29, the Kings lost a ridiculous 9-8 game against the Seattle Kraken and sent their goalie of the future, Cal Petersen, to the minors on Dec. 1. 

Pheonix Copley came up and saved the season in net, providing good enough goaltending to win games. 

But Jonathan Quicks' play continued to deteriorate and Rob Blake was forced into making a controversial decision. 

He traded Quick, a franchise legend, at the deadline to acquire Joonas Korpisalo and Vladislav Gavrikov. The Kings now had two solid goalies.

Giving up both Quick and a first-round pick, it seemed like the plan was to make Korpisalo the starter and allow Copley to settle into a backup role. But Copley had other plans.

Since acquiring Korpisalo, Copley has elevated his play and created a true goalie battle between the pipes in Los Angeles.

What seemed like a simple answer to who starts in game one has become complicated.

A team that started the season with Quick and Petersen, who turned out to be one of the worst goalie tandems in the NHL. Is finishing the season with Copley and Korpisalo, who've developed into one of the best tandems in the league. 

But who starts game one?

Despite Copley's improved play, I'd still roll with Korpisalo to start the playoffs.

His .937 save percentage and 1.75 goals-against average since the deadline are some of the best in the league. He's yet to give up more than two goals in a Kings jersey, giving the team a good chance to win in every game. 

He's been nothing short of stellar.

Copley's numbers aren't quite as good, but still impressive. He's posted a .911 save percentage and a 2.13 goals-against average in the same period. And those numbers were tanked heavily by one poor performance against the St. Louis Blues where he gave up six goals on 22 shots against. 

But Copley leads in the one stat that matters, wins. He has one more win in one less game than Korpisalo and that's been the case all season with Copley.

His starts aren't amazing this season, but the Kings win with him in net. 

It makes sense to go with Korpisalo, his numbers are better and he's unlucky to have lost two games last week, giving up two goals in both games. 

But it's hard to ignore Copley's penchant for winning games this season. 

Having two goalies who can perform is a good problem to have. But come playoffs, you need to establish one as your go-to guy. It's hard to think of a team that's successfully used a true goalie tandem in the postseason. 

With five games left, it's still possible one goalie separates themselves from the other. But neither goalie's shown signs of slowing down.

Another thing that helps Korpisalo is his history of solid performances in the playoffs. 

In nine playoff games, Korpisalo's posted a .941 save percentage, a 1.90 goals against average and 7.7 goals saved above expected. 

Those are numbers that can lead you to a deep playoff run.

Copley has no NHL playoff experience, but he's exceeded every expectation and there's no reason to think he'll stop winning games in the playoffs.

If Korpisalo gets another start on Tuesday against the Edmonton Oilers, giving him two back-to-back starts in the last week, that will tell us a lot about who the starter is.

Korpisalo and Copley have brought the best out of each other, and the Kings are beneficiaries of that competition. 

Copyright © 2023 National Hockey Now. Not affiliated or endorsed by the Los Angeles Kings or the NHL.