by Chris Ryan || AHL On The Beat Archive
Slightly more than two months removed from wearing the purple and gold of the Manchester Monarchs, goaltender Jonathan Quick and his tremendous play have the Los Angeles Kings in the playoff mix in the Western Conference.
Los Angeles completed a five-game east coast trip with a 4-1-0 record after their 4-3 shootout victory over the New York Islanders on Feb. 10. The stretch included victories over two of the best three teams in the Eastern Conference as L.A. downed the Washington Capitals on Feb. 5 and the New Jersey Devils on Feb. 7.
Entering this week, the Kings trail Minnesota by only five points for the final spot in the Western Conference (they are also only nine points behind Vancouver for the fifth spot).
Plenty of former Monarchs are helping to lead the way with Patrick O’Sullivan scoring on a penalty shot and assisting on an Anze Kopitar goal in the New Jersey win and Dustin Brown finishing the trip with four points in five games, but the biggest reason for the King’s success has been their rookie netminder.
Quick was named the NHL’s No. 1 star for the week ending Feb. 8. In that week ‘Quickie’ was 3-0 and stopped 95 of 100 shots, including a shutout in Ottawa.
“It’s great to be able to win on the road, it gives the team a lot of confidence,” said Quick, 23, after the Kings’ 3-1 win over New Jersey on Feb. 7. “Especially these past two games against Washington and New Jersey, they are two contending teams. It’s great to come out here and play them toe-to-toe and come out on top.”
This season for Los Angeles, Quick is 12-8-1 with a 2.59 goals-against average, a .910 save percentage and three shutouts, the most by a Kings netminder since former Monarchs goaltender Mathieu Garon amassed that total during the entire 2005-06 season.
“You don’t really expect (to have this much success) going into the situation,” said the native of Milford, Conn. “But the team has really helped me out a lot. They’ve played really well in front of me and that’s allowed me to be back there when they need me.”
Quick was called up by the Kings on Dec. 19 and prior to that he had a 6-5-2 record with a 2.68 GAA and a .919 save percentage in 14 games for the Monarchs.
He also spent last season in Manchester splitting time with goaltenders Daniel Taylor, Erik Ersberg, Dan Cloutier and eventually Jonathan Bernier in net. He played in 19 contests and was 11-8-0 with a 2.32 GAA and a .922 save percentage in addition to playing net in three games with L.A.
He said he still can’t believe that he’s begun to achieve his dream of being an elite NHL goalie.
“I don’t think it’s really set in yet to be honest with you,” he said. “Since I’ve been up here, it’s just about taking one day at a time. I think maybe when the summer comes it will set in and I’ll realize what’s going on.”
Former Monarchs left wing and Kings captain Dustin Brown has liked what he’s seen from the UMass-Amherst product.
“I think goaltending has been an issue in L.A. for a really long time now and then he came up and played really well for us,” said Brown. “I think he’s a real confident goaltender and that’s the one thing I really notice about him.”