In decorating the goaltending mask he would wear after he was traded to the Kings, Ben Scrivens wanted to be creative but represent his new team. He didn't have a catchy nickname to highlight, like Curtis Joseph's "Cujo" or Felix "The Cat" Potvin, and he wanted to avoid the obvious — a crown.
"All my masks I'm wearing have a King theme," Scrivens said. "But sometimes it's difficult to come up with unique ideas that haven't been done before."
Scrivens, who graduated from Cornell in 2010 with a degree in hotel management, had two quotations from Shakespeare imprinted on the mask. From "King Lear": "Allow not nature more than nature needs/Man's life is as cheap as beast's." From "Macbeth" he took, "The cry is still 'They come!' Our castle's strength/Will laugh a siege to scorn."
He could have added another, from "As You Like It." — "All the world's a stage/And all the men and women merely players. ... And one man in his time plays many parts."
That's appropriate because Scrivens — acquired last June with winger Matt Frattin and a draft pick for backup goalie Jonathan Bernier — has played the role of season-saver since Jonathan Quick sustained a groin injury that might take six weeks to heal.
Scrivens is 4-0-2 in his last six starts with a 1.15 goals-against average, .955 save percentage and two shutouts. He has given up five goals in his last 340 minutes and 4 seconds, a goals-against average of 0.88 and save percentage of .966 while playing for a team whose recent goal famine leaves him little room for error.
He has been calm under duress in games and a willing student in practice as he works with goaltending coach Bill Ranford to refine his game.
"I think of it as an opportunity," said Scrivens, whose academic credentials have gotten him the nickname of "Professor."
"Even if I was playing once however many games, there's pressure to go in there and win when you get a chance. You don't want to be a guy that the coach is reluctant to put in because he doesn't trust that you can come up with a win."
Ranford and goaltending consultant Kim Dillabaugh have gotten Scrivens to alter the position of his glove hand. Ranford is fine with Scrivens' playing outside his crease and handling the puck, saying Scrivens has made good decisions. Ranford also said Scrivens is "a thinker," which has good and bad points.
"We talk about that a lot, about not thinking, just let it happen," Ranford said. "I think he analyzes his game and that's not a bad thing, because if you're going to get better, you'd better look at your game."
Scrivens is still making mental and technical adjustments.
"You've got to be true to yourself," he said. "You have your own reads and your own thoughts and successes you've had throughout your career. Those are things you always sort of have in the back of your mind, the positive reinforcement you've had coming up.
"That being said, I've never been one to claim I know everything about goaltending. You can always learn stuff from new guys. ... The game's always evolving. The position's got to evolve along with it."
He has also had help in learning his way around Los Angeles: His wife, Jenny, who was the goalie for the women's team at Cornell, is from Camarillo. One of her older brothers played for the Junior Kings and she recalled joining her twin sister to skate in roller hockey exhibitions at the Forum.
"It's surreal," she said during a recent game. "I watch like a fan, not like my husband is playing for the Kings."
They don't discuss hockey techniques at home. "We'll talk about it in the general sense, if he wants to talk about the difference in coaching between Toronto and L.A. and how he's adjusting that way, and the things he's learning," she said. "At some point you just have to leave work at work and come home, and that way it's great."
Jenny works for Extension PR in West Hollywood and volunteers as a coach for the Lady Kings 12u team. While telling the girls how to hug the post and use their sticks to deflect a pass to the slot, she was shocked when they said they understood because they had seen Ben do it.
"Not only was I impressed that the girls were watching the game and learning, but I think it's finally starting to sink in that my husband plays for the team I grew up cheering for," she said.
Not only that, he's playing his part well on this new stage.
Where: Rogers Arena.
On the air: TV: FS West; Radio: 1150.
Etc.: For the Canucks, this will end a six-game homestand. They're 1-2-2 so far. They fell to the Kings, 5-1, in the teams' previous meeting this season, at Staples Center on Nov. 9.
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