The Los Angeles Kings have made the 2023 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs. Yet, one big question still needs to be answered before round one, game one. That question is, who will be the starter between the pipes when the Kings start their playoff run?
Los Angeles Kings McLellan has a tough task ahead
Both have been solid this year, with the only thing between them being the number of starts for Pheonix Copley. Their numbers are quite comparable and have similar numbers since Joonas Korpisalo arrived in Los Angeles after the trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Do you go with Copley because he has been the reason the Los Angeles Kings are in the position they are in? Do you go with Korpisalo because he has more NHL experience?
The obvious answer is Copley, or is it? Since his recall in December of 2022, the Kings, and Copley, took off. The Los Angeles Kings were an average team in the Pacific Division, with Jonathan Quick and Cal Petersen struggling. Copley came on the scene and dominated from the start. He put the Los Angeles Kings on his back and put them back into a playoff spot in the Pacific Division. His play put a new energy into the team, and has played well since his arrival. In the 2022/23 NHL season, Copley is 24-6-3 with a GAA of 2.64 and a save percentage of .903. He was with the Washington Capitals during their most recent playoff runs but made no appearances in the net during those playoffs.
Or is the obvious answer Korpisalo? He has played as well as Copley as of late, and the trade with Columbus seems to have the Kings playing on a new level. The Pacific Division title may be out of reach, but Korpisalo is playing like the playoffs have already started. Korpisalo has more NHL experience and had been solid for a Blue Jackets that was at the bottom of the league for a number of years. Korpisalo is more of a battler, challenging the shooter at every angle. This season, Korpisalo is 6-3-1 with a 2.03 GAA and a save percentage of .926 in ten games with the Los Angeles Kings. In his playoff career, Korpisalo is 3-5 with a .941 save percentage and a GAA of 1.90. Again, those numbers were on a below-average Columbus Blue Jackets team.
If I am head coach Todd McLellan I start Joonas Korpisalo. His experience in both the regular season and playoffs would be the key points in deciding who starts game one. Korpisalo put up satisfying numbers with Columbus that were far below the Kings. What kind of numbers would he put up in the playoffs for a far superior Kings team? Korpisalo should get the team’s first two playoff games then McLellan could go from there. If he falters, McLellan has a goaltender who has won 24 games with the Kings since December 2022. That is not a bad rotation between the pipes.