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2016 Playoff Preview: Jonathan Quick vs. Martin Jones

2016 Playoff Preview: Jonathan Quick vs. Martin Jones

Neither the Los Angeles Kings nor the San Jose Sharks allowed a single goal in last season’s playoffs. Both teams are guaranteed to be less stingy this season, primarily because they are actually participating. The last time these squads clashed in the post season was the first round of 2013-2014, where LA completed a historic comeback from a three-game deficit to win in seven. These high-talent state rivals didn’t give up many goals this season, making it likely this series will be an intense, low-scoring bloodfeud.

Jonathan Quick

Save %GAAGSAAEven Strength Save %Adjusted Save %High Danger Save %
.9182.2211.5.928.918.855

Perhaps no goaltender in hockey enjoys the prospect of a playoff streetfight as much as the Kings Jonathan Quick. He’s made a name for himself through strong playoff performances, which is fortunate, because his career regular season numbers are decidedly mediocre. This season was somewhat better than usual, seeing Quick post an above-average save percentage of .918, and a superb .855 against high-danger shots. These numbers are more than sufficient to give LA’s stifling defence a chance to make a deep playoff run, and may be part of a change in his approach this season.

Quick has long been recognized as the most depth-agressive in the league. He stood further outside the blue than anyone, making an imposing impression on opposing shooters. He was able to do so in part because his defence seals the backdoor so well, but also because he possesses an explosive lateral push, unmatched flexibility, and incredible edge work. No one closes lateral space like Quick, and his ground game is elite, so it’s interesting to note how much less aggressive he has become this season. He still plays at the top of his crease, but doesn’t go beyond it nearly as often as he used to on end-zone play, and even his rush depth is less aggressive than in the past. Quick will still take ice beyond the edges of the blue and time his retreats, but the days of being way out near the hash marks seem to be behind him.

It may be a function of age (Quick turned 30 in January) and fatigue, wanting to limit the extra work and strain of playing so aggressively on a body that already required one back surgery. Either way it should also help limit his past weaknesses, which were simply the obverse of his strengths and aggressive nature. He could get stranded on broken plays, where his excellent play-reading abilities are knocked offline. His tendency to be constantly in motion meant he got caught moving or leaning the wrong way on fast plays in front, forcing him to reach back to cover holes.

Some things haven’t changed, though. He still moves so well when down that he tends to remain there for extended periods: combined with his deep crouch, this opens significant high net space. And he has a temper. I see no reason why he shouldn’t be the most entertaining goaltender of the playoffs.

 

Martin Jones

Save %GAAGSAAEven Strength Save %Adjusted Save %High Danger Save %
.9182.274.64.925.917.841

The Sharks Martin Jones is as new to the frenzy of the playoffs as Quick is experienced. Intriguingly, Jones was Quick’s backup in LA last season, which has interesting implications for this playoff matchup. LA will know his tendencies, certainly, but backup goalies aren’t studied with as much care and attention as those goalies study the shooters they face in practice. I believe the advantage of mutual knowledge goes to the defender, so I expect Jones to benefit more than his former team from their previous relationship.

Jones has put up a solid first season as a number-one, starting 65 games and posting a respectable .918 save percentage, matching that of Quick. Jones’s high-danger mark of .841, while lower than Quick’s, is still solid, and will serve the Sharks well if he can maintain it through the playoffs.

Stylistically, you might expect the 6’4″ Jones to exhibit typical giant-goalie tendencies. The biggest keepers tend to lack grace, control, and precision footwork, which their size, reach, and power compensate for. Jones bucks this trend with his smooth balance though lateral down movement and especially his seamless post integration. He takes advantage of his size by staying relatively deep in his crease, a strategy that allows him to be more automatically in position as the play approaches the goal.

Jones is not Quick’s rival in terms of lateral explosiveness, which means that once he is caught behind a pass close in, his ability to get back for the highlight save is weak. His play-reading ability is also not at Quick’s level, meaning that Jones can get caught off balance or off angle when the play develops in an unexpected way. Perhaps the biggest question around Jones, and the goaltending for this series as a whole, is how he will perform, mental and physically, against elite competition in the grinder of playoff hockey. How he responds to the pressure and strain could determine the outcome of this series.

 

 

About The Author

Paul Campbell

Paul Campbell is a writer at InGoal, and a former CIS goaltender and women's goaltending coach for Mount Allison University. He occassionally moonlights as a university literature instructor.

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