Turns out it took just one year to see a netminder perform even better on hockey’s biggest stage.
That’s no knock on Thomas, without whom the Bruins would not have ended their 39-year Cup drought last year. Instead, it’s a reflection of just how amazing Jonathan Quick has been over the last couple months in leading the Kings to the first championship of their 45-year history.
Quick followed in Thomas’ skate blades as he became the second straight American goalie to hoist both the Stanley Cup and the Conn Smythe Trophy after Los Angeles completed its improbable run to a title Monday night with a 6-1 win over New Jersey in Game 6 of the Cup Final.
And just like Thomas last spring, there was no question about Quick’s qualifications for taking home the Conn Smythe. Over the course of the postseason, Quick posted a 16-4 record with a 1.41 goal-against average, a .946 save percentage and three shutouts.
By comparison, Thomas last year was 16-9 in the playoffs with a 1.98 GAA, .940 save percentage and four shutouts. Those numbers were actually better than his league-leading 2.00 GAA and record-setting .938 save percentage in the regular season, but still pale in comparison to Quick’s stats this spring.
Since save percentage began being officially tracked in 1983-84, only two goalies posted a better playoff mark than Quick’s .946 this postseason, and both of them (Marty Turco at .952 in 2007 and Dominik Hasek at .950 in 1994) did not make it out of the first round. Quick maintained that mark over four full rounds with remarkable consistency.
The Milford, Conn. native and UMass product never allowed more than three goals in a game in the playoffs, and gave up three on just two occasions, compared to three shutouts, seven one-goal games and eight two-goal efforts. In contrast, as good as Thomas was last year, he did have some struggles, giving up five goals twice, four goals on three other occasions and three goals four more times.
Thomas does get the edge in coming through in some pretty pressure-packed situations. He was 4-0 when the Bruins were facing elimination, winning three Game 7s and pitching shutouts in the seventh game of both the Eastern Conference Final and the Cup Final.
Quick and the Kings never faced elimination, or even trailed in a series. Their longest series was the six-game Cup Final, and that came after Los Angeles jumped out to a commanding 3-0 lead. Of course, Quick’s stellar play was a big reason why the Kings rolled through each round so quickly, so it’s hard to hold the lack of elimination games against Quick.
Thomas still has one accomplishment that Quick hasn’t matched yet. Thomas possesses a Vezina Trophy from last year’s stellar campaign. Actually, he owns two Vezinas, as he also won the award in 2009, but last year was particularly gratifying as he became the first goalie since Bernie Parent in 1975 to win the Vezina, Conn Smythe and Stanley Cup in the same season.
Quick has a shot to match that trifecta. He is one of three finalists for this year’s Vezina after going 35-21-13 with a 1.95 GAA, .929 save percentage and league-leading 10 shutouts in the regular season. But the voting for the Vezina was conducted before the start of the playoffs, when Quick really enjoyed his coming out party on the national stage.
In the regular season, it was New York’s Henrik Lundqvist who commanded the bulk of the attention, going 39-18-5 with a 1.97 GAA, .930 save percentage and eight shutouts. That’s certainly a campaign worthy of a Vezina, and there shouldn’t be any objections if the Rangers netminder takes home that piece of hardware.
Quick might be even more worthy, as the Kings would not have even made the playoffs without his stellar play overcoming Los Angeles’ 29th-ranked offense, but he won’t complain if doesn’t win the Vezina. Getting his name engraved on the Cup means a heck of a lot more than any individual award.