Depending on who you talk to, there are varying degrees as to whether or not the Los Angeles Kings are true Stanley Cup contenders. Regardless of where you fall on that spectrum, it’s hard to ignore the fact that this is still the same team, if not improved, that won the Cup in 2011-12.
What would go a long way towards the Kings securing at least a deep run in this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, if not another title entirely, is the play of Jonathan Quick. Quick is coming off something of a down year, but rebounded towards the end of the year and in the playoffs.
The explanation for Quick’s struggles is relatively simple. He had “minor” back surgery in the offseason, and did not play anywhere during the lockout. He came back clearly rusty and it took him a bit to round into form. Down the stretch, though, with the Kings needing every win they could grab, he came up big.
There’s little doubt that Quick is among the best goaltenders on the planet. He lives up to the billing that his last name provides, moving around the crease better than any netminder in the game. He is overly aggressive, which has a tendency to get him into trouble, but he more than makes up for it with his level of play.
Outside of losing Rob Scuderi, this Kings’ blue line is still the same as it was last year. Only with a now healthy Matt Greene and Willie Mitchell. It’s one of the deeper blue line groups in the league. Add that to the factors working in Quick’s favor.
Given what we saw down the stretch last year, it isn’t an exaggeration at all to refer to Jonathan Quick as a favorite for the Vezina Trophy. In fact, if the Kings play like they’re expected to, and give him a bit of help in the offensive end, there’s no reason to think that Quick won’t run away with the hardware in 2013-14.