LA Kings: Is Jonathan Quick the Frontrunner for the Conn Smythe Trophy?
The simplest response to the question posed in this article's headline is, yes. Unequivocally.
The anchor of the eighth-seeded Los Angeles Kings, the man who led the NHL in shutouts (10) during the regular season, Jonathan Quick, is not only the front runner for the Conn Smythe Trophy, he's the reason the team is in the Western Conference Finals.
In this playoff season, Quick leads all active goaltenders in the major goaltending categories—save percentage (.949), goals against average (1.55) and most importantly, wins (8).
Granted, the Kings' offense has been much better in the process of knocking off the Canucks and Blues. Actually, it's been a lot better, ranked 29th in the NHL during the regular season with 2.29 goals-per-game and now ranked fourth in the second season at a a three goal-per-game clip.
Nonetheless, Quick has been nothing short of spectacular as his eighth-seeded team has done the unthinkable, knocking off the Western Conference's No. 1 and No. 2 teams during the regular season.
Now, the Kings return to the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 1993, when they defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs en route to a Stanley Cup berth against the eventual champion Montreal Canadiens.
And, it's not so much about what the Kings have accomplished this playoff season, it's the manner in which it's occurred. The Kings look like the team everyone expected at the beginning of the season. Sleeping giants Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards, Dustin Penner and Jeff Carter have apparently awoken from their slumber, making the Kings a formidable side.
While the rest of the team is finally performing at-or-above par, Jonathan Quick is still the straw that stirs the drink for the Kings. As stated previously, the Kings are sitting at home, watching the playoffs without him—and, no individual has meant more to his team in the playoffs than Quick, one of the most critical measurements of any Conn Smythe Candidate.
And, here's one final reason Quick has been the NHL's best playoff player and maybe the most important: No matter what the players in front of him do, the team always has a chance to win.
That's high praise for any player, and Jonathan Quick, the kid from Connecticut, deserves such recognition—hopefully in the form of postseason hardware.
Ryan O'Leary is a writer and researcher for Bleacher Report's Video Production Department with seven years of experience in sports media.
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