The question now is whether or not the Los Angeles Kings’ star goaltender set trends as well.
Quick finished as playoff MVP with 16-4 record that included an incredible 1.41 goals-against record and .946 save percentage, topping the marks for any goalie to play more than 10 games in a single postseason (Chris Osgood at 1.55 in 2008, and Martin Bordeur, his counterpart in this year’s Final, with a .934 in 2003). Quick also set new NHL highs for road wins, with 10 overall, 10 straight this season, and 12 in a row over the last two playoffs. He allowed just seven goals in six games in the Cup Final.
“I feel like I tried to give my team a chance to win every night,” Quick said in his post-game press conference. “From a goalie standpoint, that’s your job. You try to do your job every night and hopefully more times than not, you can do that.”
Quick did his better than most these playoffs – and differently too, which is interesting on a couple fronts.
While the trend towards tandems will likely continue in the NHL, Quick shattered the post-lockout theory that a workhorse goaltender, especially one based on the travel-heavy Westcoast, could not win the Stanley Cup. The 26-year-old played 69 games in the regular season – and most of them were pressure packed because the Kings’ 29th-ranked offense failed to provide steady run support. That’s the highest total of any goaltender to win the Stanley Cup in the last seven seasons, eclipsing Marc-Andre Fleury in 2009 as the only other to play 60-plus games and win it all, and well above the average of 45 starts for a Cup winner.
The more interesting trend, however, may be the one Quick established from a style perspective.
Following on the heels of fellow American Tim Thomas, who also won both the Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe while wearing Vaughn pads and a Sportmask helmet painted by EyeCandyAir last season, Quick makes it two championships in a row for goalies playing an ultra-aggressive style that combines more reactionary elements than many goaltenders on top of a solid base of butterfly mechanics and recoveries. (Of course, a shut-it-down, block-out defence also helps out, especially to take away backside or second chance opportunities that the aggressive styles of Quick and Thomas can sometimes surrender because of the extra distance they have to recover).
That’s not to say the technical part should be ignored in any way. Just as Thomas worked hard to add more of those elements to his game over the years, a fact still overlooked by many, Quick has come a long way technically since playing in the ECHL just four seasons ago. InGoal noted one technique both have added after Game 5. We have also discussed the strides Quick made in that regard in depth with both Kings’ goaltending coach Bill Ranford and assistant goaltending coach Kim Dillabaugh, and will present all the important modifications made to his approach in the cover story for this month’s edition of the digital magazine.
As much as Quick’s refined approach increased his consistency during a season that included a Vezina Trophy finalist nod, it’s his dynamic athleticism that really sets him apart. And the fact a 40-year-old Brodeur emerged as the Eastern Conference champion in goal with kick saves, half butterflies, and two-pad stacks only adds to the trend of goaltenders succeeding in the NHL by giving shooters a different look. Add Antti Niemi’s somewhat unique looking approach to winning the Stanley Cup two seasons ago, and it seems be fair to argue goalies may need more than the prototypical butterfly as a save selection to win in the NHL.
So what do our fellow goalies think? While it’s no secret the drop-and-block system was already declining as an effective style when overused at the higher levels, has it now gone a step further? Do goalies have to be able to get outside the blue ice and give shooters a different look to be effective in the NHL now? Be sure to add your thoughts and comments below.