After leading his team to their first Stanley Cup in franchise history, Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick took home the Conn Smythe Trophy for the playoffs most valuable player. But there was one piece of hardware Quick wasn't recognized for.
First off, let's examine the difference between the Conn Smythe Trophy and the Hart Memorial Trophy: the Hart is an annual award given to the player judged to be the most valuable to his team, while the Conn Smythe is given to the most valuable player for his team in the playoffs.
It was clear to most by Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final that should the Kings be victorious, Quick was a shoe-in for the Smythe as he put up dominant numbers and was the backbone of this Kings team throughout the playoffs.
Quick finished the post-season with a .946 save percentage, and a 1.41 goals-against average (including three shutouts) leading the league in every goaltending category.
There is no doubt that he catapulted himself atop of many fans lists for one of the premier netminders in the league, but the truth is Quick did much of the same all season long and just wasn't recognized for it.
Quick posted ten shutouts, two more than New York's Henrik Lundqvist, who was nominated for the Hart for helping the Rangers win the Eastern Conference, only to be ousted by the New Jersey Devils in the Conference Finals.
For a team that had a horrible knack for not scoring (Los Angeles was second-last in the entire NHL in goals for this season), Quick received very little support throughout the year, but still kept the Kings hanging around a playoff spot in the Western Conference, which saw one of the tightest playoff races in recent memory.
Quick also put up a 1.95 goals against average, good for 2nd in the league behind only St. Louis' Brian Elliott, who played 31 less games than Quick and could never have been a realistic Hart candidate given that he and Jaroslav Halak shared the net for the Blues this season.
One stat that isn't put into the record books, but with which Quick made a name for himself all year, is the games that he allowed two goals or less. Compared to his Hart-nominated counterpart Lundqvist, Quick had 17 games with just one goal allowed, and 46 times throughout the season the Kings netminder allowed two or less.
Lundqvist has 12 games with one goal allowed, and 41 where he allowed two goals or less, a small difference, but one that means more when you take into account that the Rangers scored 32 more goals than the Kings, good for 13th in the league with 226.
As important to the Rangers as Lundqvist is, they dominated the regular season all year with the likes of Marian Gaborik (41 goals) and Brad Richards (66 points), as well as balanced scoring from their other three lines.
Was Lundqvist a big part of that dominance and the team's most valuable player? Certainly. But on a league level, Quick meant so much more to a Kings team that seemed to only need a goal or two to win a game. The Kings led the league with 14 losses in one-goal games, while they were 24th in that category when the opposition scored more than twice.
The Rangers on the other hand, lost only five games by one goal, and placed 2nd in the league for wins by two goals.
Lundqvist received better run support all season long, and still had a spectacular season in his own right. But Quick carried the Kings on his back, barely squeaking into the playoffs on the 81st game of the regular season, only to completely dominate the playoffs.
There was no doubt that Quick would win the Conn Smythe for the playoff MVP, but now that hockey writers on the East Coast have recognized what the young Milford, Connecticut-native is capable of, they should be kicking themselves for not staying up later and seeing Quick's brilliance on display all season long.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com