LA Kings: An increasingly confident Cal Petersen keeps on shining

LA Kings (Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports)
LA Kings (Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports) /

Cal Petersen gave the LA Kings his best performance on the young season.

Entering what has been an unprecedented type of season, the LA Kings weren’t given the greatest of chances as far as competing for a playoff spot went. However, after a few games of shaking off the rust of a 10-month-long absence from competition, the up-and-coming Kings have found a groove as of late. Thanks to this, the silver-and-black have had contributions across the board, including in goal. Cal Petersen has proven to be no exception to this.

While he may be the backup on paper, Petersen has been playing like he deserves a starting spot. Yet, while there is no goaltending controversy in Los Angeles quite yet with Jonathan Quick, the Notre Dame alum is nonetheless showing signs of brilliance early on.

Following Tuesday’s victory in Minnesota, Petersen spoke with the media about his individual play but also touched on his team’s recent resurgence, which includes earning their first winning streak of the season — on the road, no less.

“Yeah, it’s huge,” Petersen said of the LA Kings’ winning streak away from home. “I think anytime you’re able to get points on the road, you usually have to battle crowds and different fans and stuff like that, but I think it’s just kind of the day-to-day grind of being on the road.”

Winning on the road is something that the LA Kings goalie really enjoys.

While he and his teammates certainly appreciate the familiar confines of STAPLES Center, Petersen admitted that there’s something extra vindicating about winning games away from home.

“I think we’re really confident at home and being on the road kind of adds another different element,” the netminder noted. “So, any wins we can get on the road is huge and hopefully, we can kind of keep a little of this momentum going.”

As confident as he feels in between the pipes, though, rushing to be a starting netminder is not a priority for Petersen. While being the No. 1 man in goal may be tempting to consider, the 26-year-old is more focused on an organic approach of getting better.

“I think any time I play, I like to digest the game with Billy [Ranford], the goalie coach,” Petersen said. “We go over stuff and, you know, watching it again, you kind of take the emotion out of it and you either feel better about the game or worse about the game but either way, you’re learning from it. That’s something I like to do and then, you know, that’s usually a day or so before the game and then the day of the game, it’s all about the team that we’re playing and preparing for.”

Petersen continued.

“I think any game experience I can get, I’m just trying to get better with each game,” he added. “So, I think so far in the season, kind of like each performance I’ve set up before, I felt like I’ve been a little better each performance and now things are starting to come together a little bit and to be able to win is the main thing and so any time I can do that, I feel more confident in my game.”

While his confidence continues to grow from his own play, the LA Kings netminder admits that his success would be limited without his defenders in front of him. He noted this following Tuesday’s game, crediting Mikey Anderson and winger Alex Iafallo for last-minute shot blocks that helped preserve the victory.

“Any time guys sacrifice their bodies, that’s when you have the right guys on the ice and guys that want to win at all costs,” Petersen stressed. “So, those are huge blocks, and we’ll take them, and that’s the reason that we win hockey games.”

The only blemish on Petersen’s record on Tuesday was the goal he gave up.

The tally — a Joel Eriksson Ek wraparound — was reviewed to determine whether Petersen had either covered the puck or was pushed into the net with the puck. The goal, which did stand, was addressed after the game.

“I don’t think it was a matter of it being covered. I think it was more so whether the guy pushed my leg,” Petersen recalled. “That play, in general, is kind of tough for any goalie. When your skate’s up against the post, there’s a little bit of a gap there. It’s kind of a vulnerable spot to get in, and, you know, I think it could have gone either way. I mean, it’s going to be hard for me to get that call, but, you know, it’s just one of those things that you kind of have to put more of your body in front of that and make sure it’s fully sealed.”

Before the season began, it was made clear that Cal Petersen would get more playing time, and so far, the Waterloo, IA, native has earned it.

It is hard to believe that Tuesday’s victory was just his first of the season, but that is a testament to how competitive — and how skilled — Petersen is even on nights when his team comes up short. After all, despite Joel Eriksson Ek’s aggressive goal, Petersen was flawless on Tuesday night, coming up with a number of key saves and even bailing out his defense on those rare miscues.

We may only be seven games into the season, but if the LA Kings gave 2021 as an opportunity — as THE opportunity, rather — for Cal Petersen to prove exactly what he’s made of, then No. 40 has answered the bell and then some.

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Don’t expect Jonathan Quick to be sweating over his starting job just yet but do not discount Cal Petersen and his heroics, either. It is largely thanks to the latter, after all, that the Kings are riding their first winning streak of the season. But, be sure to expect more from Cal Petersen this season. He just may be one of the more underrated gems to shine in this otherwise-unusual campaign.