Jeff Zatkoff will make his NHL debut tonight when the Pittsburgh Penguins take on the Florida Panthers. The 26-year old Detroit native will start the first of back-to-back games for the Pens in the Sunshine State as the team takes on Tampa Bay Saturday. Zatkoff is all business though, saying, "Obviously, I’m excited. First one, been waiting for this for a while. But I think once the game starts, it’s another game, another two points that we need to get in the standings.”
He added, "I like to stay calm and approach the game the same way I approach every practice. Maybe take an extra five minutes beforehand just to really focus. I’ve played a bunch of games. This is obviously at the NHL, but I’m confident in myself that I can go out, play and play well."
Why shouldn't he be confident? The matchup could not be more swayed in Zatkoff's favor. The Panthers are horrible. Let's call a spade a spade. The Cats are 1-3 on the year and have given up eighteen goals opposed to scoring seven. Context: the Panthers gave up their season total to the Lightning and Flyers last week. The Tim Thomas experiment lasted has long as the Harlem Shake (3 starts, 1-2 record, 5.05 GAA, a pulled groin, and 1 sick Triceratops) and defenseman Brian Campbell leads the team with four points (all assists).
The Florida Panthers stink.
But don't let that sour Jeff's debut. He's been waiting a long time for it. Zatkoff's played five years in the AHL and shined in the 2012-2013 regular season, winning 26 games and sporting a 1.93 GAA. The Pens aren't exactly rolling the dice putting him in between the pipes . . . at least not against Florida.
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