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23 Intently Staring Goalies

Quick!  Don’t Miss Him!

There are times I’m tempted to send the extra-large pot of coffee to the east-coast media, usually when they start up on “where did come from?” This usually precedes the team being scheduled in for every east coast swing for the next season, which at least solves the problem for that player. Trouble is—there are always more players out there in Pacific Time land!

In other words—Jonathan Quick—he’s been here all along!

There’s been a couple of issues in addition to the “need to set the DVR” barrier to viewing Quick. First, up until this season, the Kings just weren’t that good. Everyone talks about the need to rebuild—no one wants to be around to watch. With the Sharks and the Canucks taking up a good chunk of the later games, the Kings just didn’t get airplay.

And then there was Quick himself. Not only did get have to grow into the role, there was also the common opinion a few seasons back that Bernier was going to be the go-to guy, and Quick would be the backupp. Or they’d split things 50-50. That made it a lot easier to give Quick a glance and move on to another story.

Add in the Kings coming in as the 8th seed, and the press presence elsewhere, and wel, yes, Quick is pretty much shiny and new for most of the media.

So, what do we have here? Quick isn’t “just” a butterfly goaltender. The “he’s a typical butterfly—shoot high and beat him” was promulgated by an on-ice analyst with obvious Ducky biases, and a bunch of the media picked up on that.  Unfortunately, it’s a lot faster to take what’s being said than checking the video on your own, so that meme was let loose in the wild.

Two problems with that:

  1. Quick has more in his arsenal
  2. Even if he didn’t, Ray Bourque hasn’t been brought out of retirement

I’m happy to see that the Darren Pang, as part of the NBC crew, has been properly analyzing Quick’s style and his strengths and weaknesses.  Quick makes an interesting contrast to Brodeur: Brodeur relies more on his stick, even in these days of the “magic trapezoid”, but you’ll see Quick use his stick to stop the puck and put it back into play. Thank you Bill Ranford and Ron Hextall, two past and current goalie coaches for Quick. Quick’s also coming out and not-quite crouching at the corners of the crease, which cuts down the view of the upper portion of the goal. That keeps the high shots from happening in the first place.  Flexibility and leg strength takes care of getting into the position for the shots that come in from other angles. That strength is what allows him to be in place for the rebound—as anyone who’s been in eagle splits can tell you, it’s getting back out of them that’s the hard part!

What makes Quick special is his spatial abilities. In a forward, this would be the player who skates to where the puck is going to be, not where it is. In a goalie, it manifests as a goaltender who can anticipate where the puck is coming from, even if the play is almost completely blocked from view. Add to that reflexes that can take advantage of the spatial prescience, and you have a goalie who’s going to stop a lot more shots than his peers.

So get ready to brew another pot of coffee, because there’s going to be some late-night goalie watching in your future!

Andrew Knoll of the Lose Angeles Daily News writes about how Jonathan Quick has matured into a Vezina-caliber goaltender:

Believe it or not, there was a time when Jonathan Quick was caught napping on the job.

“All I think of with Jonathan Quick when I see him now is when he was in the East Coast League, he fell asleep on the couch and Billy Ranford went down there to see him. He left the goalie coach with no goalie on the ice,” Kings general manager Dean Lombardi said. “That’s how far Jonathan Quick has come.”

“Billy Ranford goes all the way down there, I don’t know where the hell it was, to give him his tutoring. He’s at the rink and Quicker’s sleeping. You don’t think there’s some growth there?”

Lombardi wisely delegated the phone call to Quick to his right-hand man Ron Hextall, who was not too much calmer. Today, Hextall sings Quick’s praises in as close to a serenading falsetto as the rugged former goalie can muster.

“He’s matured as a player, he’s also matured as a person. They kind of go side by side,” Hextall said.

Quick has developed into a monster between the pipes, a Vezina Trophy finalist in the regular season and the frontrunner for the Conn Smythe Trophy as his team sits one win away from the Stanley Cup.

Quick was in the top five in every major goaltending category, leading the league in shutouts with 10.

Even so, from a strict win/loss standpoint, Quick was barely .500, winning 35 games, losing 21 in regulation and dropping 13 in overtime or a shootout for a total of 34 losses.

“He allowed us to find our game in front of him,” said Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell, who credited Quick with the Kings just reaching the postseason. “That’s what great goalies do. They allow teams to find their game.”

Indeed, the Kings discovered their swagger late in the season, heating up at the right time. Meanwhile, Quick found another level to his own game.

In the playoffs, Quick has led the league in every major goaltending category among goalies who made four or more starts. He has been a road warrior, winning all 10 of his starts away from Staples Center.

“He’s been our most consistent player all year,” Kings center Mike Richards said. “The biggest reason we made the playoffs is that he was so consistent and he played every night the same way.”


Filed in: | 23 Intently Staring Goalies | Permalink
  Tags: goalie, jonathan+quick, los+angeles+kings, nhl


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About 23 Intently Staring Goalies

23 Intently Staring Goalies comes from the 23 close-up photos of goalies that used to line the walls of my office.

On the good side, it kept down interruptions, but it also made sure I had to leave my trash outside my door if I wanted it picked up.

I've been watching and analyzing goaltenders for going on 40 years. Some of that was spent drawing goalies on my grade 8 math homework. Then it was taking my card decks and printouts to Indianapolis Racer games. Luckily, the Internet took off, and by 1991 I was half of the duo that would ultimately become the Plaidworks hockey mailing lists. I wrote "Handicapping the Goalies' for the San Jose Sharks mailing list, and took a lot of photos of goalies in action. I have around 5000 slides of mostly goaltenders in action from 1989 through 2001 from the WHL, IHL and NHL. Since I've gone digital, I've added about 10,000 more images to the library. During summers and when the league went dark, I was reading through multiple SF By area news papers, tracking ice hockey from the 1917 recreational leagues up through the California Seals.

We'll be talking about goalies and goaltending. We'll talk about whats going on now, who's in the system, and when the doldrums hit, I'll haul something out of the big bag of history, or something from the photo archives. We'll talk about who's hot and why, and who's not and what they can do to get back on track. We'll take a look at the trends in scouting goalies, and why a style may work for one team but not another. I'll battle with my dictation software to get it to understand Bryzgalov and Bobrovsky.

It should be interesting--hope you want to come along for the ride!