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Rookie Zatkoff to start one of Penguins’ next two games

Oct 9, 2013, 2:12 PM EDT

Jeff Zatkoff Getty Images

Rookie goalie Jeff Zatkoff will make his NHL debut either Friday or Saturday when his undefeated Penguins travel to Florida for games against the Panthers and Lightning, respectively.

Pittsburgh head coach Dan Bylsma confirmed the plan today.

Marc-Andre Fleury will get the other start, of course.

Zatkoff has put up good numbers during multiple seasons in the AHL. The 26-year-old was installed as the Pens’ backup after it was learned veteran Tomas Vokoun would be out 3-6 months with a blood-clot issue.

“I want to go with the goaltending we have here and see how we do,” general manager Ray Shero said last week. “Like anything, you’ll evaluate as you go. Since Tomas has been out I know who every available free agent goalie is because I’ve gotten calls from their agents and other teams.

“Right now I want to go with this and see how we do. I want to give Jeff the opportunity, which I think he’s deserved.”

In other team news, injured defenseman Kris Letang (lower body) skated for almost an hour today and will accompany the team to Florida. However, he’ll have to return to full practice before he’s a candidate to return to the lineup.

  1. curioustraveler13 - Oct 9, 2013 at 2:29 PM

    I hope he gets the start against Florida. That would be a good confidence boost for him I think. I mean the flyers even managed to beat the panthers, shouldn’t be too tough.

    • jpelle82 - Oct 9, 2013 at 4:47 PM

      yep. unless bylsma wants to let him see real talent like stamkos and st louis to maybe build some character in him. you gotta beat the best to be the best right? a couple good saves on a guy like stamkos can do more for your psyche than a cheap win against the worst team in the league…the way the pens are playing d these days, he should get a win in either game barring an epic collapse.

  2. cmricci - Oct 9, 2013 at 5:10 PM

    I feel like a solid outing against either team will help out Zatkoff, but, as stated by jpelle82, it would almost be more beneficial to see him go up against a good offense like Tampa. If the kid belongs in the NHL, then he needs to show it right off the bat. Granted, even the Panthers will be better competition than what he saw in the AHL, but see what you REALLY have in him by throwing him up against Stamkos and St. Louis. His outing will also show Flower what he has behind him. A solid outing may push Fluery even harder to keep this solid start rolling into the middle of the season and beyond.

  3. capsrockva - Oct 9, 2013 at 7:45 PM

    hopefully, he faces the bolts. I’d love to see Samkos/St Louis light the lamp on him big time

    • c9castine - Oct 9, 2013 at 8:47 PM

      You should worry more about seeing your teAm win a game that matters

  4. steelers88 - Oct 9, 2013 at 10:28 PM

    I think it’s a good move to start Zatkoff against Florida just to get his feet wet in the NHL and later in the season you can play him against the better teams.

  5. steelers88 - Oct 9, 2013 at 10:33 PM

    I love the new style the Penguins are playing! They are a very gritty team with scoring power! This team might not be the best team like the Penguins have had in the past but this team has the role players that step up and score goals. This team is a legit Stanley Cup Contender.

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