Penguins notebook: Goaltender Jeff Zatkoff is seeking redemption
February 5, 2016 12:00 AM
Adam Hunger/Associated Press
Penguins goalie Zatkoff has not played since Jan. 18.
By Seth Rorabaugh / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
After practice Thursday in Cranberry, Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said he has yet to make a decision on splitting starting goaltending duties this weekend between Marc-Andre Fleury and Jeff Zatkoff in road games against the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight and Florida Panthers Saturday.
Zatkoff has not played since a disappointing, 5-2 road loss Jan. 18 against the St. Louis Blues, when he allowed four goals on 20 shots. Regardless of when he plays, he will be seeking redemption.
“I just want to get in there again,” Zatkoff said. “You never like ending on a loss, especially where you don’t feel you’ve played your best. I think it’s one thing, as a backup, if you’re sitting on a loss and you know you played well and you do what you’re capable of. But I think I can honestly play better than I did in St. Louis. I’ve been looking forward to getting in there and kind of redeem myself.”
Zatkoff felt his mental approach was the biggest factor to that loss.
“That St. Louis game, I started off well,” he said. “I think for me what happened, I gave up that first one off a bad play with the turnover and I think I just lost a little bit of my concentration mentally and kind of let it get away from me a little bit. Maybe just overthought it a little too much instead of kind of erasing it, forgetting it and moving on. It’s in the past. I think I kind of dwelled on that first goal, and it creeped into the rest of my game and made me play a little bit unsure instead of having that extra confidence.
“I know I can play in this league. Second [season] now and been putting up good numbers. I just want to get back in there and give the team a chance to win when I get in.”
Athletes often say they need a “short memory” when it comes to a lack of success. For a backup goaltender, bad memories can linger.
“I think you sit on it longer, right?” Zatkoff said. “When you’re playing more often, right away you’re playing that next night or the following night, so you’ve got to clear your mind. I think as a backup, you have more time to look over the video and work on your habits to get back. So, sometimes, it can be an advantage. I looked at it afterward and, obviously, I’m not dumb. I know when I played a game if I played as well as I could or not. I felt like I could play better. I’ve just been waiting for the next opportunity to get back in there.”
Defenseman Kris Letang participated in practice after being absent Wednesday. He has regularly skipped practices since having a suspected right arm injury Jan. 15. ... Assistant coach Jacques Martin returned to practice Thursday after missing one Wednesday and the home game Tuesday against Ottawa because of an undisclosed ailment.
Seth Rorabaugh: firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter: @emptynetters.
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