NHL Awards: 3 Reasons the LA Kings Jonathan Quick Deserves the Vezina

Jacob Betzner@@JacobBetznerCorrespondent IIMay 10, 2012

NHL Awards: 3 Reasons the LA Kings Jonathan Quick Deserves the Vezina

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    According to NHL.com, the Vezina Trophy is an annual award given to the goalkeeper adjudged to be the best at this position as voted by the general managers of all NHL clubs.

    Los Angeles Kings' goaltender and 2012 Vezina Trophy nominee Jonathan Quick finished the 2011-2012 NHL season with 35 wins (fifth overall), a 1.95 goals against average (second overall), a .929 save percentage (fifth overall) and a league-leading 10 shutouts.

    The 26-year-old's record suffered significantly as the Kings' streaky scorers failed to bail out the goaltender in eight 1-0 losses over the course of the season.

    Quick represented the Kings at the 2012 NHL All-Star game in Ottawa.  The Connecticut native beat Detroit Red Wings' goaltender Jimmy Howard in the goaltender version of the the fastest skater race in the Skills Competition and allowed only three goals in one period of the high scoring contest.

    With his team fighting for a playoff spot late in the season, the former UMass Minuteman helped Los Angeles earn eight of a possible 10 points in the final five games of the regular season and secure the eighth seed in the Western Conference.

    Neither fellow Vezina Trophy candidates Henrik Lundqvist, the New York Rangers' highlight machine, nor Pekka Rinne, the Nashville Predators' 43 win netminder, played behind the inconsistency that defined the Los Angeles Kings' season.  Both candidates contributed significantly to their team's success, but not to the extent of Quick's season-saving play.

    Quick's efforts to secure a spot in the NHL Playoffs and lofty stat totals make him the runaway winner of the 2012 Vezina Trophy.

The Goose Eggs

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    Jonathan Quick led all NHL goaltenders with 10 shutouts during the 2011-2012 regular season.

    Earning a shutout in the NHL takes a lot of skill, focus, effort and a little luck.  Earning 10 shutouts in a season takes near superhuman ability.

    Quick's near flawlessness between the pipes negated the Kings' lack of offense for much of the regular season.

    He constantly won goaltending battles to secure two points for Los Angeles, and the team needed every point they earned at season's end.

    His three shutouts and 4-2-2 record down the stretch helped the Kings secure a trip to the 2012 NHL playoffs.

    Breaking double digits in the shutout column in a single season is no easy task, and only a handful of NHL goaltenders have ever accomplished this feat.

    It's no mistake Quick led all other goaltenders in shutouts.  He was more consistent than almost any other goaltender this year, surrendering more than four goals in a single game only once.

The Puck Stops Here

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    Only the Minnesota Wild scored more goals in the regular season than the Los Angeles Kings.

    Conversely, only the St. Louis Blues allowed fewer goals than the Los Angeles Kings.

    Jonathan Quick's play helped the Kings finish with a +15 goal differential despite the lack of offensive production.

    His low goals against numbers kept the Kings winning many close games and helped Los Angeles earn at least a point in 13 regular season overtime losses.

    Nashville's Pekka Rinne led the league in wins and saves but played behind a tighter defense and in five more games.  Quick ousted Rinne in both the goals against average and save percentage columns and doubled his shutout total.  Quick and Rinne split the season series between their respective teams.

    Lundqvist bettered Quick in only the wins column, while the Rangers' skaters consistently played a solid two-way game in front of him.  Quick won the only game of the season between New York and Los Angeles 3-2.

    There is reasoning behind choosing any of the three goaltenders is for the most part valid, but Quick did more with less help.

Because It's the Playoffs

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    The Kings opened the 2012 NHL Playoffs by beating the heavily favored Vancouver Canucks in five games and swept the St. Louis Blues in Round 2.

    Nothing that happens after the conclusion of the regular season bears any weight in the decision of who wins the Vezina Trophy, but if not for Quick, the Kings might have missed the postseason altogether.

    Jonathan Quick went 10-3-2 in March and April to propel the Kings into the playoffs.

    Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers secured a spot in the Eastern Conference Playoffs just over halfway through March.  Pekka Rinne and his Nashville Predators earned a position in the Western Conference Playoffs later that month.

    Quick played with a playoff mentality until the final buzzer of the Kings' final game of the regular season, which ultimately determined their playoff position.

    His superb play helped the Kings catch fire at just the right time, and many now consider the Kings a legitimate Cup favorite.

    On a patriotic side note, if Quick won the Vezina, he would be the third American goaltender in four seasons to do so.  The Buffalo Sabres' Ryan Miller won it in 2010 between two Tim Thomas wins.

    Quick's the pick for the 2012 Vezina Trophy.