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American Quick leads Kings' Stanley Cup run

06/07/2013, 1:15pm EDT
By Andrew Knoll

LOS ANGELES -- Through 10 road games in the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick has won 10 games.

The breakout performance has some fans already thinking about another road test two years from now in Sochi, Russia, backstopping Team USA at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

“He’s all-world, right?” Kings teammate Willie Mitchell said. “He’s been doing it all year. We wouldn’t be in the position we’re in, just [getting] into the postseason, if it wasn’t for him playing so terrific for us on a consistent basis.”

The Kings not only made the postseason, they sit on the brink of the first Stanley Cup in franchise history. Los Angeles holds a 3-1 series lead over the Devils going into Game 5 Saturday in New Jersey.

Much of the Kings’ success can be attributed to Quick. After the team sneaked into the playoffs as the eighth seed in the Western Conference, Quick has gone 15–3 with a .948 save percentage, 1.39 goals-against average and three shutouts. His performance has made the 26-year-old a favorite for the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoffs MVP.

Yet while some goalies ooze confidence that may border on arrogance, Quick has been a beacon of humility through his three and a half years in Los Angeles.

“I feel I’ve tried to give my team a chance to win every night,” he said. “From a goalie standpoint, that’s your job. You try to do your job every night. Hopefully, more times than not, you’re able to do that.”

Success has followed Quick, a Connecticut product who the Kings drafted out of UMass in the third round of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. After six years of missing the playoffs, Los Angeles returned to the postseason in 2009-10, Quick’s first season as the team’s No. 1 goalie. The Kings have made the playoffs in each of the three seasons with Quick as the primary net-minder.

This season, his spectacular regular-season performance — 35-21-13, .929 save percentage and 1.95 GAA — was just enough to help the Kings squeak into the playoffs, where he has continued to be “the backbone of the team,” according to Kings captain and 2010 U.S. Olympian Dustin Brown.

Brown has praised Quick so frequently that lately even the most spectacular performances between the pipes get described as “Quickie being Quickie.”  Like so many great performers whose talent is surpassed only by their consistency, it can almost become routine watching Quick stand on his head in net.

“Shooting on him every day, you’re amazed at first at some of the saves he makes,” Kings center Mike Richards said. “You see it on TV now, but after seeing so many of these saves it’s tough to be amazed anymore.”

The Sabre’s Ryan Miller, Team USA’s goalie at the Vancouver Games and the standard-bearer for American goalies, captured the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s best goaltender in 2010. This year, Quick is one of three finalists, and his teammates all support his candidacy unequivocally.

“He’s out here in the West. If he’s in New York where everyone’s thinking (the Rangers’ Henrik) Lundqvist is going to win the Vezina or whatever, I don’t think there’s any doubt that Quickie’s would win it,” Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said. “We lost so many games by one goal, we won so many games by one goal, and that was all due to his hard work and how well he was playing.”

Much as his childhood favorite Mike Richter did for Quick, Quick and Miller are paving the way for the next generation of American goalies.

Jack Campbell, a former USA Hockey National Team Development Program goalie selected No. 11 by the Dallas Stars in the 2010 draft, should be a full-time AHLer for the Stars next year as he continues his tempered development. John Gibson, an Anaheim Ducks prospect and NTDP alum, had a stellar season as an OHL rookie. His performance with Kitchener went well beyond expectations despite personnel turnover, injuries and other obstacles the Rangers faced this season.

For Quick, his body and mind have both developed brilliantly over the past three seasons.

“Jon’s gotten himself into better and better shape,” said former Conn Smythe-winning goalie and Kings executive Ron Hextall. “He’s got a really strong lower body, from his core down he’s really strong. He’s got outstanding push in his legs, which allows him to stay low, move and still be able to track pucks.”

Praised as a leader in the dressing room and the Kings’ most valuable player on the ice, Quick has come a long way from being a long-shot draft selection.

“He’s matured as a player, he’s also matured as a person. They kind of go side by side there,” Hextall said. “A bad goal or a bad game doesn’t bother him. He doesn’t let little things bother him.

”That’s something along the lines of Marty Brodeur, where you’re competitive but you don’t let things bother you.”

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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