The 2011-12 season really was something magical for Jonathan Quick and the Los Angeles Kings. Quick carried the Kings throughout the regular season and was absolute dynamite in the playoffs, helping lead the Kings to their first Stanley Cup title in franchise history. He won the Conn Smythe as playoff MVP, and probably should have taken home the Vezina as the league’s top goaltender in the regular season.
Things didn’t work out quite as well for Quick and the Kings during the lockout shortened 2013 season. Whether it was the offseason back surgery, or the fact that he didn’t play at all during the lockout (or what was most likely a combination of both), Quick never gained enough traction to return to the elite level at which he had performed in the previous season.
That didn’t stop the Kings from another deep run. Where defending champions have struggled in their title defense in the last several years, the Kings did not. They reached the Western Conference Finals, though it was a series that saw Quick continue to struggle with his consistency, as they were ousted in five games, though he was far from the only reason that they were sent home.
This season should see Quick return to form. Though he was unable to put together his elite performances on a consistent basis, as he had in 2011-12, there were plenty of flashes that showed 2013 was more of an off year, and not actually a regression of any sort. Which means big things for the Kings heading into the new season.
This is still a team that has the same core intact as when they won the Stanley Cup in 2012. They’re as tough a team to play against as there is in the league, with a strong mix of offensive skill, talent on the blue line, and a bruising style of game, that will continue to make them a threat year in and year out. Assuming that Jonathan Quick returns to form, this is a team that is in for another deep playoff run in 2013-14, if not at least a Stanley Cup Finals appearance.