Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
It takes quite a performance to swipe the starting goaltender job from a man with a 1.66 goals against average (GAA) and an NHL-leading .941 save percentage (SV%).
But Los Angeles Kings goalie Ben Scrivens has seen rookie Martin Jones vault to the top of the depth chart this month after the 23-year-old made his debut on Dec. 3.
In his first six NHL starts, Jones has gone 6-0-0 with a 0.82 GAA and a .972 SV% while picking up three shutouts. He's already tied for the league lead in the latter category with seven other netminders, including Scrivens. All seven have appeared in at least 16 games.
Jones is the latest player to step into Los Angeles' net and suddenly become an impenetrable force.
Jonathan Quick posted a 1.95 GAA, a .929 SV% and 10 shutouts in 2011-12 before going on to win the Stanley Cup and Conn Smyth Trophy.
Quick's backup, Jonathan Bernier, had a 1.87 GAA and a .922 SV% in 14 games last season, prompting Toronto to trade for him and make him its starter this season.
Scrivens came over in the trade with Toronto and was forced into action after Quick went down with a groin strain. He's been mostly dominant, but not enough to hold off Jones.
According to the Los Angeles Daily News, Kings coach Darryl Sutter said on Dec. 6 that he started Jones at Anaheim on Dec. 3 because he didn't like some of the habits that Scrivens had been displaying.
"Just little things," Sutter said. "You can't do it at this level. You're going to get scored on. We did a lot of work with Ben at training camp to get him into our program. There's a reason why we don't give up a lot of shots. There's a reason we don't give up a lot of goals around our net.
"A big reason is the goaltender. If he's getting away from that, he's not going to play."
Since Sutter made those comments, Scrivens has made just one appearance.
The emergence of Jones is actually a positive development for Quick owners. Instead of returning in early January with Scrivens still red hot, Quick can come back and regain the starting job immediately while Scrivens reverts to a backup role and Jones heads back to the AHL.
A trade of Scrivens, who will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason would unsettle that situation, but any deal for the 27-year-old is unlikely to come until the Kings know that Quick is fully healthy.
Until Quick returns to the crease, fantasy owners can expect Sutter to go with the hot hand in net, and right now there's nobody in the league hotter than Jones.
The rookie will get another two weeks as the starter, but his trade value in fantasy leagues will probably never be higher than it is now, with Quick's return still far enough away to put the Stanley Cup-winner out of mind.
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