Name: Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings
Height/Weight: 6 feet 1, 212 pounds.
Seasons with the Kings: 4
What’s his role? Stop the puck, simple as that. Snap the glove, throw the pads, stick out the toe of the skate, even use the mask if that's what it takes to keep the rubber from crossing the goal line. Quick’s development over the last 3½ seasons is nothing short of magnificent. In 2009-10, his first his full season as a starter, he allowed an average of 2.54 goals a game. He trimmed that number to 2.24 the following year and made another dip to 1.95 this season, leading the league and establishing a franchise record with 10 shutouts. The Kings have had one of the best penalty-kill units in the NHL the last two seasons and Quick’s excellence is the reason why.
What has he done lately? If there were a smudge on Quick’s resume coming into the playoffs, it would be his postseason performance the previous two years. He was lit up for 21 goals in a six-game loss to the Vancouver Canucks two years ago, came back with a much-improved regular season but then collapsed again the playoffs, allowing 20 goals in a six-game loss to the San Jose Sharks. That goalie is nowhere to be found in these playoffs. This spring’s version has stopped 94.6 percent of the shots on goal he has faced, and allowed just 22 goals in 14 playoff games for a microscopic 1.54 goals-against average. In the playoff losses to Vancouver and San Jose, he allowed more than two goals in eight of 12 games. Opponents have surpassed that mark just twice in this postseason.
Where you’ll find him on the ice? Quick mans the crease with the foot speed and flexibility few others have shown in his profession. He plays an aggressive butterfly style that allows him to cover the low sides of the net, but he’s not afraid to come out of the crease and challenge a player head on. Where he sometimes gets into trouble is behind his own net. Quick is not the best puck handler and has been victimized by giveaways a few times in his career. Fortunately, that hasn't happened this postseason.
What he does best? Quickness and flexibility are two of a goalkeeper's best friends, and Quick has both in his corners. He can split his legs like a gymnast, touching both posts with his skate blades at the same time. Not only does that allow him to cover large portions of the net, but he can get low to the ice and see beneath traffic. His cat-like quickness is just as important to his success. Quick can slide across the crease in the blink of an eye, closing the opposite side of the net before an opponent can release a shot. He might be the toughest NHL goalie to beat on a tic-tac-toe play.
Another comparable athlete? If there’s any position that carries more responsibility than an NHL goalkeeper, it’s a Major League Baseball pitcher. Both positions have immense control when it comes to limiting an offense, and both are the first to get the hook when things go bad. Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers has made life miserable on batters the last six years and he’s doing another stellar job this season. Verlander has yet to show that same dominance in the playoffs, however, owning a 3-3 career postseason record with a lofty 5.57 earned-run average. Quick has excelled this spring; Verlander’s hoping he gets another shot this fall.