Despite the fact that the New Jersey Devils outplayed LA in Game 2 on Saturday night, the Kings still managed to come out on top. It was yet another reminder of the simple fact that no one can score on Jon Quick.
He is on fire, shutting down yet another powerful offensive team in the Devils and continuing to clean up every mistake his teammates make in front of him. While he played very well during the regular season, he has played out of his mind when it has mattered most.
During the regular season, Jon Quick posted a 92.9 save percentage; that number is currently up to 94.9 in the playoffs. His 1.95 regular season goals against average has dropped down to a miniscule 1.36. Most importantly, the Kings won 50.7 percent of their games with Quick in net, going 35-21 during regular season play.
In the playoffs, the team has won a ridiculous 88.2 percent of their games, going 15-2 with a spotless 10-0 road record. These stats are not to prove that Quick is manufacturing this unlikely run by himself; the entire King’s team is playing extremely well right now. The point is to illustrate the colossal difference a goalie can make come playoff time—and man have there been some great performances in net throughout the playoffs.
To start, as should any good conversation regarding the history of NHL goalies, is Jacques Plante. The man won six Stanley cups during his 26 year NHL career but had one of the greatest playoffs for a goalie in history when he led his team to an 8-0 record during the 1960 NHL playoffs. In an era where goalies still did not wear protective masks, and the position was very underdeveloped, Plante was unbeatable, posting 3 shutouts and a 1.35 goals against average.
1960 marked only one of his tremendous playoff runs with the Montreal Canadians, who hoisted Lord Stanley’s Cup a record five consecutive times with Jacques Plante in net. He is undoubtedly one of the best goalies in the history of the game as well as a major innovator for the sport, becoming the first goalie to wear a protective mask during play as well as becoming the first player to demand regulation goal sizes (so yes, it is regulation size, Billy).
Yet another great Habs goaltender, Ken Dryden, went 12-2 throughout the 1977 playoffs, including four shutouts and a 1.55 goals against average. Like Plante, this was only one of Dryden’s great performances in the playoffs. He ended up wining five Stanley Cups (four in a row) during only a seven-and-a-half year career. Nonetheless, 1977 will always be remembered as one of the most dominant playoff years for a goalie in history. Led by Dryden, the Canadians that year were simply on another plane of hockey existence, easily walking with the Cup in hand.
My favorite hockey player of all-time, Patrick Roy, capped off his remarkable career in 2001 by winning the Stanley Cup for a fourth time with a 16-7 record. This playoffs included four shutouts, a 1.70 goals against average and a 93.4 save percentage. Roy outplayed each goaltender that year starting with Dan Cloutier of the Canucks, then Felix Potvin of the Kings, Roman Turek of the Blues and lastly, Martin Brodeur in the Stanley Cup finals. This incredible run cemented Roy as one of, if not the, greatest goalie of the modern era.
Though Martin Brodeur has had a number of great playoff years ending in victory, his 2003 performance was best. He led the Devils to a 16-8 record with an insane seven shutouts, 1.65 goals against average and a 9.34 save percentage. He anchored one of the best defensive teams in history with the Devils during the late 90s and early 00s, and, like the others mentioned in this article, is a lock as one of the best goalies of all time.
After suffering through a number of years with a ailing Buffalo Sabers team, Dominik Hasek finally got his chance in 2002 with the Red Wings, and he did not disappoint. That year, he led the Red Wings to a 16-7 record with six shutouts, 1.85 goals against average and a 92.0 save percentage. At probably the peak of NHL’s popularity and before the salary cap was instituted, these elite playoff teams were absolutely stacked. Nonetheless, Hasek absolutely dominated in 2002 and finally won his name a place on the famed cup.
By now, I’m sure you have figured out where I’m going with this article.
Jon Quick’s numbers this year are just as good, if not better than, all of those I mentioned above from Hall of Fame goalies. In addition, Quick has put up those gaudy numbers in an era of hockey where the rules are skewed in favor of the offence. I thought the Canucks would kill the Kings, did not believe LA could survive the Blues, began to buy into it during the Coyotes series but never thought they could defeat the Devils.
Two games into the Finals, I am a fan, especially of Jon Quick. If he’s in net, the odds are LA wins. The question is, is this the beginning of another Hall of Fame career? Will this continue next year and the year after that?
Either way, it’s fun to see a goalie like Jon Quick playing at this high of a level throughout the playoffs again. It takes me back to the good old days of hockey, and with the level of talent entering the league these days, it looks as though we could be headed back that direction.
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