If you're don't want to see Jeff Zatkoff appear in a game over the next two months, you're not alone. Zatkoff hopes his season is done also.
That's not a condemnation of Zatkoff's play. It's simply the reality of the postseason. If the backup goaltender has to play for any reason, that's never a good development.
Zatkoff wrapped up his regular season with a 3-2 shootout loss to the Senators last night. Thrust into the backup role just days prior to the regular season in the wake of Tomas Vokoun being stricken with blood clots, Zatkoff appeared in 20 games this season and went 12-6-2 with a 2.81 goals against average, a .912 save percentage and one shutout.
Following last night's game, Zatkoff talked about his first NHL regular season and what life will be like in the postseason:
How do you assess your first regular season at the NHL level?
"This has been a great experience for me. This is my dream to play in the NHL To be able to get the opportunity and to get that chance, it’s been a dream come true. It was a lot of fun. A lot of hard work. It got long at the end there [of the regular season] when I think we saw playoffs in sight. I think everyone was getting anxious there to get to the playoffs. Looking back, it was great. It started off in the first game, probably not like I wanted to but from that, I think I was able to build from each game and establish myself."
How do you feel in terms of confidence as an NHLer after one regular season?
"I think it’s night and day difference. I always believed in myself that I could play at this level but you want to prove it to everyone else. I remember not even be able to sleep for my first few of games. Now, it’s like just another game. You just get comfortable with the guys, the situations, the speed of the game, making you’re reads. The games slowed down the more I’ve played and I’ve been able to build in each experience."
Do you have a greater sense of belonging here now?
I don’t think anyone really knew who I was outside the organization and [the Kings], in terms of fans and being able to play and getting some wins and showing what you could do at this level. Getting the backing of management on the [contract] extension really puts a lot of confidence in you. I think it was a good first season. Obviously looking to build and get better from here.
If things go to plan, you won't play for the next two months. How do you approach the postseason knowing you won't have any scheduled starts?
"Hopefully, I don’t play. Not saying I don’t want to. Same way I’ve been going. Really, my games are my practices. If I’m ever called upon or just have to go in there for a little while, I’ve just got to make sure I’m ready and on top of my game. No excuses for not being ready just because you’re not expected to play. It just puts a lot more emphasis on my practice habits."
(Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)