Last year, Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas became the second goalie to win the Stanley Cup, Conn Smythe and Vezina Trophy in the same season. Could Jonathan Quick follow down that same path?
When it comes to Stanley Cup Playoff hockey, the goaltender always plays a critical role.
Last season, Tim Thomas was everything and more to his hockey club. He had a terrific regular season that landed him the Vezina Trophy as the league's top netminder; was outstanding in the postseason to lead his Bruins to their first Stanley Cup in 39 years; to top it off, won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the league's most valuable player in the postseason.
One netminder who is currently scripting a very similar story to Thomas' is Los Angeles' masked man, Jonathan Quick. Not only is Quick an American like Thomas, but he can now add a Stanley Cup Final appearance to his resume as the Kings get set to take on the New Jersey Devils this week.
Prior to the 2011-12 NHL campaign, many people in the hockey world had high hopes for the Kings. This was a team that now had the likes of Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards, Dustin Brown, Drew Doughty, Justin Williams, Simon Gagne and Quick between the pipes.
However, things certainly did not get off to a good start for the Kings and their struggles even continued into the second half for a bit. The team was dealing with injuries, playing in a tough and competitive Western Conference and having a lot of trouble scoring goals. In fact, the Kings were second to last in the NHL in goals scored.
With that said, the team was able to squeak into the playoffs for one reason and one reason only: the play of Quick, 26, in net.
Like Thomas did in the 2010-11 season, Quick turned in a spectacular regular season in which he picked up 35 wins, posted a 1.95 goals-against average, had a .929 save percentage along with 10 shutouts.
Like Thomas was the season before, Quick was named to the NHL All-Star team and also got nominated for the Vezina Trophy, the first nomination of his young career.
Like Thomas, Quick then rode his regular season success into the postseason.
The Kings went into this year's playoffs as the No. 8 seed and were going up against the best team in the entire NHL in the Vancouver Canucks. Needless to say, the Canucks were the heavy favorite to beat up on the Kings and get back to the Stanley Cup Final.
The Canucks' hopes of getting back to the Final ended in five games as Quick and the Kings won that series in five games. Much of it was due to the play of Quick, who stopped of 164 of 172 shots, including a terrific 41-save performance in Game 3 at Staples Center.
Much like Thomas did in the second round against the Philadelphia Flyers, Quick helped his team sweep the St. Louis Blues in the second round of this year's postseason. In that series, Quick was terrific once again in stopping 96 of 102 shots.
In their five-game series against the Phoenix Coyotes, Quick, who did not have to be at his absolute acrobatic best, once again got the job done to help his team advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1993. Quick stopped 124 of 132 shots in getting to the Final for the first time in his five year NHL career.
Like Thomas was at this time last year, Quick is just four wins away from his first Cup and if the Kings have their way, Quick might also be four wins away from winning his first Conn Smythe Trophy when all is said and done -- just like Thomas won last year when the NHL's postseason came to a close.
Can Quick pull off the rare trifecta like Thomas did a year ago? Well, he's as close as he'll ever be in doing so.
Our podcast 'RLD Hockey Talk' is LIVE every Wednesday afternoon at 1:00 ET/Noon CT. Some of our notable guests in past episodes have been Dustin Brown, Doc Emrick, John Buccigross, Dave Strader, E.J. Hradek, Elliotte Friedman and Jay Grossman.