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LA Kings Martin Jones (Peter Power/The Globe and Mail)
LA Kings Martin Jones (Peter Power/The Globe and Mail)

NHL NOTEBOOK

Duhatschek: Martin Jones and the rise of the backup goalies Add to ...

Teams will ask – fairly – are all the L.A. goalies just a product of the Kings’ system? The answer is no, not entirely. Scrivens and Jones have actually been better, on balance, than Quick, who was having just an okay season (10-5, 2.35 GAA, .905 save percentage) before he got hurt. The Kings have lost just twice in regulation since Quick’s injury Nov. 12, a monumental achievement and a testament to their relentlessly solid defensive play.

Style-wise, Jones and Quick look a lot alike. They are athletic, usually square to the shooter, great going post-to-post, getting the pads down on the ice and taking away the bottom of the net 100 per cent of the time. Jones is from Vancouver and played for the 2010 Canadian world junior team as the backup to St. Louis Blues prospect Jake Allen, but was never drafted. Much of his development can be credited to the Kings dynamic duo of goaltending coaches – Bill Ranford, who is on Darryl Sutter’s coaching staff, and Kim Dillabough, who is their goaltender development coach. Ranford’s instructional work in particular is starting to get noticed by, among others, Hockey Canada.

Jones, meanwhile, is fitting in nicely with the Kings’ dressing room culture which is to say, he deflects all questions about his own strong play back by discussing team goals in the tried-and-true Bull Durham, how-dull-can-I-make-this-sound way. This is how Sutter wants it – all we, no me.

When Jones won Saturday afternoon and looked good doing so, Sutter wouldn’t even answer questions about his record-setting day, saying: “I don’t want to talk about it. Talk about the team. One guy doesn’t win games.” Jones, meanwhile, blamed himself for allowing the game’s second goal – gasp – acknowledging that yes, “it has been good. I’ve said it before it’s a good start, but it’s something to build off of and make sure we keep getting better here.”

Meanwhile, through no real fault of his own, Scrivens is back on the bench, where he started the season, despite being the NHL’s official leader in save percentage (.941) and No. 2 in goals-against average behind Harding (1.66). Sometimes, life is all being in the right place at the right time. Sometimes, it’s just the opposite.

SHOOTOUT THOUGHTS: Jones, incidentally, has stopped all 12 shooters he’s faced this year in two shootouts, nine in an earlier win over the Anaheim Ducks, three more in Saturday afternoon’s victory over Colorado.

Avalanche coach-of-the-year candidate Patrick Roy had an interesting take on that. After first allowing that he doesn’t “mind a shootout,” Roy said he “honestly” thinks the NHL should go back to the system they had prior to the 2005-06 season, in which a game not won in overtime finished as a tie. “In the end, these are big points that teams pick up,” said Roy, “and I think it would make a bid difference in the standings.”

Would it ever make a difference in the NHL’s weirdly skewed accounting system, which makes some games worth three points and others two? Under the current system of extra points being awarded for games that go to overtime, 11 of the 15 Western Conference teams are five or more games above the current definition of the .500 mark, while two others (the Winnipeg Jets and the Predators) were at .500, with the Jets set to play Vancouver on Sunday night.

Technically, it means the only two teams with losing records in the West are the Calgary Flames and the Edmonton Oilers, who are dead last with an 11-24-3 mark and are currently on pace to challenge the worst season in franchise history (60 points in the 84-game 1992-93 season). Players and coaches alike have clearly run out of answers in Oil Country, where more Oil Changes may be necessary once again. Edmonton has lost a season-high six games in a row and has been shut out three times in the past five games. Yikes, it’s bad and getting worse in the Alberta provincial capital.

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