Thursday, December 29, 2011

Quick to Judge

Voting for the 2012 All Star game is on and--as always--the players from teams with the biggest fan bases get voted in while some of the league's ACTUAL all stars get snubbed. Looking over the current voting standings, I can't help but notice that one the league's best goalie has been snubbed by the hockey community once again.

Jonathan Quick is easily the most valuable player on the Kings' roster. Beyond that, his stats rival that of the best goalies in the league. Quick's prowess isn't new either. He's been dominant since 2009. However, Quick has yet to be invited to an All Star game, receive an award of any type, or even receive any sort of noticeable acknowledgement of his spectacular play. It's the most cruel sort of negligence.

Rewind back to 2009-10. At this point, the Kings had been pretty forgettable since the days of Wayne Gretzky. Enter Jonathan Quick. It's his first full season in the NHL. Interestingly enough, it's the first time the Kings would make the playoffs since the lockout. It would make sense that Quick had a lot to do with that since he started 72 games of the 82-game season, and unreal workload. And Quick's quantity of play was not substituted for quality, rather it was supplemented by it. In the 09-10 campaign, Quick posted a SV% of .907 and a 2.54 GAA. Beginner's luck? I doubt it. Sophomore slump? Not at all. In 10-11, Quick improved on his numbers. Playing 11 fewer games (there's no way he could have kept pace with 72/year), Quick posted a .918 SV% and a 2.24 GAA.

If you continue to track Quick's numbers into this season, they continue to get better. Through 31 starts this season, he has a ridiculous .930 SV% and 2.08 GAA. Oh, and he leads the league in shutouts with 5. You would think that numbers like this would garner a spot on the All Star roster. However, on the list of the top 15 vote-getters, Quick sits at 11.

Let's look at the goalies who sit above Quick:
1. James Reimer
2. Tim Thomas
3. Marc-Andre Fleury
4. Carey Price
5. Pekka Rinne
6. Henrik Lundqvist
7. Ilya Bryzgalov
8. Jimmy Howard
9. Nikolai Khabibulin
10. Roberto Luongo

Most of these guys are good goalies, but why doesn't Quick get higher consideration when he has better stats than most of them?

Even more pressing--why doesn't Quick get any love from his own team? No matter how well Quick plays, it seems that every year the Kings coach and management want to wedge more Jonathan Bernier into the net. ESPN (not that they're a reliable source of hockey opinion) predicts Bernier to somehow take the job away from Quick. So far, Benier's "competition this season has been a 3.10 GAA and .883 SV%. The Kings don't seem to realize that Quick is the one piece that is keeping them in contention.

Don't tell me about Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards, or Dustin Brown. The Kings offense has been miserably weak. They rank dead last in the league in goals per game with 2.1. Richards may be the top goal-scorer for the team, but even then he only has 13 this season and Kopitar is the only other player in the double digits in goals (10). Kopitar is also the top point producer on the team with 34, but there are only two other Kings with 20 points or more. Don't kid yourself and say that Quick's getting any help at the other end of the ice.

While his team wallows in futility, Quick is a rock on the other end of the ice. I told you that the Kings are scoring 2.1 goals per game. Well, the Kings are allowing 2.3 goals per game, which is the 6th best GAA in the league as a team. Granted, Bernier is probably responsible for the negative ratio, but the Kings offense isn't really giving Quick much room for error. Yet, the Kings sit one point out of the top spot in the Pacific Division.

All of this and Quick is still only considered a "dark horse" for Vezina consideration and sits behind 10 other goalies for All Star consideration, likely because of players like James Reimer who haven't really played that much or that exceptionally well this year, but are likely to get in because he plays in Canada or because he plays for a team with a large fan base.

Look at the stats. Look at reality. Quick is a real contender and the lynchpin of his team. Be a real hockey fan and call a spade a spade. Give credit to the real stars of the NHL. You could start by voting for Jonathan Quick.

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