Photo Credit: Alex Cave

With both goalies playing well, expect the LA Kings to continue with the rotation of Pheonix Copley and Joonas Korpisalo.

It’s been five games since the LA Kings acquired defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov and goaltender Joonas Korpiaslo from the Columbus Blue Jackets in a shocking trade that sent franchise legend Jonathan Quick to Ohio (albeit briefly). The team is 4-0-1 in those five games, and each goaltender has played well. Pheonix Copley is 2-0-1 with a 1.63 goals-against average (GAA), and a .932 save percentage (SV%), while Korpisalo is 2-0 with a 2.01 GAA to go along with a .929 SV%. Finally, consistently good goaltending has returned to Los Angeles.

The prevailing thought after the trade was that Korpisalo would take the reigns as the team’s number-one netminder. After all, he had an impressive .911 save percentage this season while with the lowly Blue Jackets and has consistently been in the top half of goaltenders in MoneyPuck’s Goals Saved Above Expected (GSAx) metric.

However, as Todd McLellan hinted after the game against Nashville, the rotation could very well continue.

“We need two goaltenders,” he said rather matter-of-factly when answering a question about the goalie rotation as the team head’s into playoffs. “You rarely get through running one, regardless of what happens; injury, fatigue, score, momentum; so you do need two.”

This was part of the reason that I wasn’t sold on the acquisition of any goalie would be as impactful as it seemed on the surface, given that this goaltender would have to be definitively better than Pheonix Copley and, over a relatively small sample of games, that is no guarantee. In the last 30 days, both goaltenders have been in the top ten in GSAx. Per Evolving Hockey, Korpisalo is fifth, while Copley is seventh.

All that said, this is a good problem to have. Much better than what the Kings have been dealing with between the pipes up until this point. (Though, for what it’s worth, Jonathan Quick is 3-0 with a 1.97 GAA and .939 SV% since joining the Vegas Golden Knights. #Goalies.)

The Kings will welcome the New York Islanders to town on Tuesday, and given Copley got the nod on Saturday, expect Korpisalo to be in the crease against the Isles.

But will the team need to choose one goalie come playoff time? There’s an old adage of needing to pick and ride one throughout the playoffs. That’s not something McLellan was prepared to commit to.

“Well, we have to make the playoffs first,” cautioned McLellan. “Secondly, we’ll decide on a game-by-game basis. If we’re lucky enough to get to that playoff situation, we believe we’ll have two (goalies).”

For now, enjoy the good goaltending while it’s here; you never know how long it will last.


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