EDMONTON - It’s no secret as to where the Los Angeles Kings would be without Jonathan Quick.
The Kings goaltender has been outstanding this season, and perhaps the only reason the club is still in playoff contention heading into Friday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers.
Without much offensive support this year, Quick has needed to be exceptional in order to keep his team above water.
“There’s been so many times this year where we’ve lost 1-0 and so many times we’ve won 1-0 games,” said Kings defenceman Drew Doughty. “We’ve struggled to score pretty much for the whole year and without him back there, we wouldn’t be where we are right now.”
Quick went into Friday with a 1.93 GAA, and a .930 save percentage with a franchise-high nine shutouts.
Quick, 26, has lost nine games this year where he’s only given up one goal. He lost 14 games this season by two goals or less.
“He’s played unbelievable this year. There have been so many games this year that he’s stolen for us, he does a great job for us every night,” said Doughty. “I feel kind of bad for him because, I think, because he’s playing in L.A. he doesn’t get the attention, because he could be in line for the Vezina.
“I think if he was in a big market like Edmonton or any Canadian city, there would be so much more talk about him. With him being in L.A., he doesn’t get as much talk and it kind of hurts him in the Vezina aspect.”
Selected by the Kings in the third round — 72nd overall — of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Quick has steadily improved each season.
This year could be considered a breakout year for the Milford, Conn., product, who played college hockey at UMass-Amherst before turning professional.
“He’s been very consistent the last few years and this year he’s played exceptionally well,” said Oilers winger Ryan Smyth, a former teammate of Quick in Los Angeles. “He never quits on a play, that’s what his motto is. He works hard and he always seems to find a way to get to those second and third chances that players seem to get. He comes up with miraculous saves sometimes.
“I knew he was going to be an elite goaltender, I didn’t think it would be this quick. He’s been great and (Jonathan) Bernier is really good, too. They have a couple of really good goaltenders over there.”
Heading into their game against the Oilers, the Kings were holding down the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, despite the fact they are the second lowest-scoring team in the NHL.
Only the Minnesota Wild have scored fewer goals than the Kings’ 178 this season.
Conversely, the Kings have been good in their own end, conceding 165 goals, second only to the St. Louis Blues, who’ve only been scored on 151 times.
“He plays on a team that defends really well, first off, and there are not many great goalies that play on bad teams,” said Kings head coach Darryl Sutter, downplaying his goaltender’s achievements and forgetting about the team he put together in Calgary. “He’s a big part of this team, which is a good penalty-killing team who don’t give up a lot of shots and don’t give up a lot of those prime opportunities.
“But nonetheless, a lot of goalies like him still have to make big saves.”
As for Quick himself, his focus is on getting the Kings into the playoffs and is not interested in discussing his accomplishments this season.
“Anything that happened already really doesn’t mean anything,” he said. “We really have to win (Friday), that’s all it is.”