LA Kings Cal Petersen

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes

After a less than stellar stretch this season, Cal Petersen has re-established himself – and it greatly improves the LA Kings goaltending situation.

Going into this season, Cal Petersen was thought by many to be taking over as the primary goaltender for the LA Kings, with veteran Jonathan Quick serving as the backup. A 60-40 split at least was envisioned with the mantle being passed from the two-time Stanley Cup champion to the young netminder who the Kings hope will one day lay claim to Stanley Cup rings of his own.

After opening the season with a convincing win against the Vegas Golden Knights, Petersen’s season seemed to go off the rails after an October 23rd loss against the St. Louis Blues in which he gave up seven goals – although, to be fair, the entire LA Kings team played terrible that night. After that game, the 27-year-old would start only eight games for the rest of 2021, winning four games and losing four.

To coincide with Petersen’s pedestrian stat line was the return of Jonathan Quick as a legitimate full-time starting goaltender. The 35-year-old Quick has turned back the clock on his career, compiling a record of 10-8-4-2 in 22 games this season. More impressive than the record is the 2.40 GAA and .921 save percentage. With a legendary goaltender like Quick returning to form, Los Angeles coach Todd McLellan put his faith in the veteran and has given him the majority of the team’s starts in goal – but there is just one problem.

Jonathan Quick will be 36 on January 21, and even with his well-known competitive nature, he cannot be expected to continue making the lion’s share of the Kings’ goaltending starts. If they are going to make a run at a playoff spot, the Kings will need Jonathan Quick to be fresh. If he continues to play in two-thirds of their games, the Kings run a very high risk of wearing Quick out by the crucial stretch of games in March and April that could make or break their playoff chances.

Enter Cal Petersen.

By the time he got the start on January 8 against the Detroit Red Wings, it had been over one month (December 6th specifically) since he had played in a game. The rest appeared to have done Petersen a world of good, as he made 21 saves in 4-0 shutout of the team from the Motor City. Granted, he did not face that many shots (heck, Detroit only had two in the first period), but he did make a few big saves to earn the shutout. Suddenly, Petersen looked like the goaltender management had enough faith in him to sign a three-year contract extension in the off-season.

Speaking of faith, McLellan had enough faith in Petersen to go right back to him two nights later against a vaunted New York Rangers team that was looking to move into first place overall in the NHL. However, it wasn’t meant to be for the New Yorkers, as No. 40 for the Kings turned in another strong performance, making 22 saves in earning a 3-1 victory. Suddenly, the LA Kings appear to have the strong goaltending tandem they envisioned at the beginning of the season.

They’ll need it, too, as even though the team is playing very well right now, they still have the fundamental problem of scoring goals on a regular basis. The Pacific Division is wide open, and the Kings have a chance to qualify for one of its three playoff spots. To get there, they will need a rested Jonathan Quick and Cal Petersen playing to his full potential. If the last two games are any indication, the LA Kings may just have that.

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