Kings Can’t Continue to Rely on Quick’s Play

Los Angeles Kings, despite starting the season with an 1-5-1 record in Pacific Division play, are fighting for the last playoff spot. Jonathan Quick’s brilliant play was the biggest surprise for LA this season.

Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles KingsAmy Irvin/ The Hockey Writers

Even though things are going well, the Kings heavily depend on Quick to win. They can’t continue to play this way, and if they do change things, it could push them over the edge for the playoffs. They could fall apart if they play their current game and Quick falls down.

Quick’s Play This Season

This season was a promising one. Calvin Petersen was going to be the Kings’ starter. He hasn’t lived up to his expectations so far. He has a.893 save rate (SV%), 3.10 goals against average (GAA) and -4.09 more goals than expected (GSAx) through 11 games.

Quick, however, has displayed the opposite trend. He has made a remarkable comeback despite some difficult seasons. Below is a table that shows how he performed this season compared to previous seasons.

2018-19 .888 3.38 -25.47
2019-20 .904 2.79 -6.42
2020-21 .898 2.86 -3.05
2021-22 .923 2.37 12.86

As demonstrated by Quick’s GSAx over the past four seasons, his game has been slowly recovering since his abysmal 2018-19 season, but I don’t think anyone expected him to play as well as he has to start this season.

Kings’ Defense Has Fallen Back on Quick

At 2.01, the Kings are the fourth-best league team for goals against per 60 (GA/60). However, this stat doesn’t paint an accurate picture of the team’s defense; they rank 23rd in the league for their expected goals against per 60 rate (xGA/60) of 2.58. LA has the eighth-worst scoring chance against per 60-rate (SCA/60), of 29.67, and the fourth-worst high-danger chances against per 60-rate (HDCA/60), of 12.31.

Related: Kings Must Sit Quickly and Start Petersen

It is unlikely that I will be able to make it happen, but it is not unreasonable to believe that it is possible. Quick will fall at some pointHe will be there for the entire season. If he does and the team continues to play as they have been, the Kings’ goals against would skyrocket and their playoff hopes would vanish.

Kings Aren’t the Only Team Relying on Their Goaltender

Some teams in the top half have had goaltender-dependent seasons as well. This list includes New York Rangers, Carolina Hurricanes and Winnipeg Jets. Below is a table showing how these teams have played similar to the Kings.

GA/60 (league rank) xGA/60 (league rank) GSAx (goaltender league rank)
Carolina Hurricanes 1.86 (3rd) 2.47 (18th) 15.73 (Frederik Andersen, 2nd)
New York Rangers 2.13 (10th) 2.48 (19th) 16.5 (Igor Shesterkin, 1st)
Winnipeg Jets 2.12 (9th) 2.69 (29th) 10.07 (Connor Hellebuyck, 7th)

The Kings are more dependent on their goaltender than teams like the Rangers. The Kings have significantly higher offensive numbers than the Rangers. Even if Quick falls, they still score enough goals for them to remain competitive. So far this season, LA has recorded an expected goals for per 60 rate (xGF/60) of 2.59 — eighth in the league — while New York ranks 27th with an xGF/60 of 2.24.

However, the Rangers still have an advantage in terms of the reliability of their goaltender. Shesterkin, 26 years old, has been consistent in his young career. Quick is 35 years old and has been inconsistent over the past few season.

Igor Shesterkin New York Rangers
Igor Shesterkin, New York Rangers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers

The Kings will be in good shape if Quick plays well. The team would be in better shape if they could improve their defensive play and would be well placed to reach the postseason. On the flip side, if Quick doesn’t continue to post the numbers he has been, playoffs would likely be out of the picture. This is unless Quick plays an incredible defense to keep up.

Advanced Stats Evolving-Hockey Natural Stat Trick

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