From his customary place in the crease in front of the Kings’ net, Jonathan Quick
sees things in a way others can’t.
When Quick gazes out at his Kings’ teammates, he doesn’t see a low-scoring team. Instead, he sees a crew that plays playoff-style hockey; a group of players who went through the regular season as if rehearsing for the NHL’s grinding postseason.
“The way we play prepares you for what you see in the playoffs,” Quick said. “Playoff games are all tight, so playing in those kinds of games all year long prepares us a little bit better than other teams for the playoffs.”
For Quick, there is little doubt that he turned in his finest NHL campaign to date. In the process, he joined Terry Sawchuk, Rogie Vachon and Mario Lessard as one of only four Kings’ goaltenders to be named to the NHL All-Star Game.
While much was being made of the Kings’ inability to provide adequate goal support for their All-Star backstop during the regular season, Quick himself barely gave the matter a second thought.
Of course, Quick doesn’t make many mistakes. His teammates recognize how important his play in net has been to their fate this season.
“He has done such a great job for us all year,” defenseman Drew Doughty
said. “He's stood on his head many times, won us many games, and played great all season for us.”
As the season progressed, it became clear that the Kings would go as far as Quick would take them. Still, the 26-year-old UMass-Amherst product doesn’t feel any added pressure.
“As a goalie, you don’t really think about it,” he said.
From Quick’s point of view, goaltending does not happen in a vacuum. Neither does goal-scoring. The two are interconnected, like supply and demand. With the Kings’ defense in great supply, there is low demand for offense.
“There has been a lot of attention on our offense and how many goals we score,” Quick said. “We don’t have a shortage of goal scorers. We have guys that can score.”
Throughout the regular season, Quick was among the league leaders in all the major goaltending statistical categories, with the exception of wins. That would seem to suggest Quick was carrying a disproportional burden of the Kings’ fate in his pads, but he doesn’t see it that way. Quick, in fact, rarely even looks at statistics.
“I’ve never been a guy to look at numbers, shutouts, save percentage, that kind of stuff,” Quick said. “Obviously, it’s good to have good numbers, but I feel like goalies, you judge them by whether you win or lose. That’s what's really most important to me. That’s what's most important to the team.”
Quick is particularly proud of the way he and his teammates have performed before the raucous home crowds at STAPLES Center this season.
“We take pride in playing in our own rink where teams are not comfortable coming in,” said Quick. “They know it’s going to be 60 minutes of hard work.”
Opponents also know they will need to work extra hard to get the puck past Quick. A hot goalie can carry an NHL team in the playoffs, and Quick has been known to get on a roll. Earlier this season, he became the first Kings goalie to record three straight shutouts as he strung together a scoreless streak that ran 202 minutes and 11 seconds.
Quick was among the league leaders in shutouts all season long but says a goaltender is just one of many elements necessary for a whitewash.
“So much goes into getting a shutout,” Quick said. “You need your team playing so well in front of you and you need to catch bounces and get lucky.”
Luck, in truth, has not been much of a factor in Quick’s ascension to elite status.
“If you come to work everyday,” he said, “everything will take care of itself.”
Score a couple of goals, and Quick will take care of the rest.