During the National Hockey League playoffs, I wrote an article for The Hockey Writers about why Jonathan Quick should win the Vezina trophy. I would like to take this opportunity to expand on three points mentioned in this article which, hopefully, will explain why Quick was so dominant this season.
For years, shooters have seen many styles of goaltending. The more goalies shooters face that play a certain style, the more likely they are to figure out the weaknesses based on that style (you can thank the endless amounts of scouting that goalie coaches and scouts do to help shooters figure this out!) Goaltenders who play a style that is based predominantly on the butterfly or block-butterfly are vulnerable in today’s game because shooters grew up seeing this style and have been able to adjust to it. Don’t get me wrong; there is a time and a place to execute a butterfly and/or block-butterfly, but these save selections should not be over used. If you look at the trend of Vezina trophy and Stanley Cup winners, you will notice more and more names who play a more hybrid or athletic style. The reason why it’s re-emerging in the goaltending world is that these goalies are less predictable and allow goaltenders to react more naturally to direct shots and situations in the defensive zone.
Whatever save selection Quick chooses to make, he does it with 100% conviction. As a goalie coach, there is nothing more frustrating than to see a goaltender attempt to make a save, but telegraph the execution. If he has to butterfly save on a puck along the ice, the ice is sealed and his stick is active. If he is going to make a save on a jam play against his post, he shifts his weight and leans towards the post, forcing the pad against the post, and placing his paddle down tight to cover the five-hole. This part of his game is truly special because it helps reduce the likelihood of frustrating goals that may squeeze in through his arms or under his pads.
I posted a comment on InGoal magazine’s article about Quick that talks about how his situational awareness enables him to stop the puck. What’s important to remember about situational awareness is that it can be taught and applied to any goalie at any level. The key to situational awareness is shifting your attention for a brief moment away from the puck and into the threat areas in the defensive zone. If you watch Quick, you will notice that he does this very often (once every 2-5 seconds) and makes very minor adjustments to his feet and hands, if necessary. When he makes these adjustments, he is physically preparing himself to make a move towards the threat. This allows for him to not only stop the puck, but control the rebound.
Quick is proof that, once again, goaltenders who play a style that is based on athleticism with fine tuned technical skills and situational awareness can reach extraordinary heights.
Hindsight is 20/20 – my article should have been titled ‘Why Jonathan Quick Will Win the Stanley Cup, Conn Smythe and Vezina Trophy.’
Congratulations to the Los Angeles Kings and the newly crowned king of goaltending, Jonathan Quick.