Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Yeah, it's pretty easy to praise Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Jeff Zatkoff right now. Even though he surrendered three goals last night against the Columbus Blue Jackets, his twenty-five saves and hefty goal support where enough for him to notch his seventh straight win. Given how Zatkoff was shoved into the backup role at season's start, if his record was hovering a game or two around .500, that would have been acceptable. But his going 7-2 and sporting a 2.52 GAA has the Pens playing with house money. And the best thing? Jeff Zatkoff just keeps getting better after every period.
Quick disclaimer: Marc-Andre Fleury's job is safer than Tony Stark's trust fund. Jeff is playing well, but nowhere near the insane level Flower's been at. C'mon, sans injury (which is possible given how indiscriminately that darn bug bites) Fleury is the Penguins starter. So no one get any ideas.
Last night was a grand example of Zatkoff's growing maturity and the trust the Penguins have in him. Early this season, the Pens defense would shield Zatkoff with three guys in front of him. But last night, the Pens played wide open and left the rookie to fend for himself. It backfired a couple times (i.e. the Dubinsky goal) but mostly Zatkoff held the fort. His efforts in the second period where also reflective of how his progression is coming. His blocker save on Blake Comeau will be the leadoff off his season highlight reel. Zatkoff displayed some quick side-to-side movement there that he didn't have in his first couple of starts. If that's not a sign of his increasing confidence then what is?
The Penguins do not wish any ill-will towards Tomas Vokoun, but Jeff Zatkoff has completely taken the backup role from him. Even if Vokoun where to come back, the Pens would be hard pressed to exchange the 26-year old American for the 37-year old Czech. Would it be wise to shut down a player whose seen game action all season for someone colder then cold? A veteran yes, but Vokoun would be a Popsicle. There is no wisdom there which means Zatkoff is in the backup role for the rest of 2013-2014. And that's a smart play. Obviously the Penguins agree. Why else would they ink him to a two-year deal that's one way?
The Penguins next play Tuesday afternoon against the New Jersey Devils. Odds are Flower will be between the pipes.
- Pittsburgh Penguins Signing Jeff Zatkoff to 2-Year Extension Telegraphes Future of Pens Crease
- Now’s as Good a Time as Any to Start Jeff Zatkoff
- Jeff Zatkoff Getting the Nod in Net for the Pens Tonight Against Florida
- Jeff Zatkoff Gets Chance for Redemption, Will Start for Penguins Tonight Against the Islanders
- For Jeff Zatkoff’s Sake, the Pens Need to Get Him Back in Net Soon
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