Thursday, April 28, 2011

2010-11 Season Review: Goaltending

Jonathan Quick
Jonathan Quick Is A #1 Whether You Like It Or Not
 About a year ago to the day, I wrote the following in my 2009-10 Season Review: Goaltending post.
The Kings may start out with a Nashville-type split in goal to start next season but it’ll be Bernier’s net by the All-Star break. 
So that didn't quite happen.  Jonathan Quick proved that last year was no fluke.  Jonathan Bernier finally stepped into the NHL full-time as Quick's backup.  The tandem provided the most solid goaltending the franchise has seen in decades.  They combined for another 46 wins, .914 SV % (10th), 2.39 GAA (6th), and 9 shutouts on the season.

JONATHAN QUICK
2010-11 Stats: 61 GP, 35 Wins, 2.24 GAA, .918 SV%, 6 Shutouts
Signed thru 2012-13; $1.8M

Whether it was the embarrassment of his performance down the stretch and in the first round against Vancouver last season or the footsteps of Jonathan Bernier behind him; Jonathan Quick arrived to training camp on a mission.  Quick came into this season in the best shape of his life. TM finally had a backup he could trust in Bernier and was able to cut Quick's games 'down' to 61 from a ridiculous 72 games last season.

The results were astounding.  Quick improved his regular season SV% from .907 to .918 and his GAA from 2.54 to 2.24 (5th NHL) while recording six shutouts (6th NHL).  And Quick was easily the Kings MVP in the first-round of the playoffs.  After the Kings defensive system left Quick out to dry in Games 3 & 4 at Staples Center; he single-handedly won Game with a 51-save performance to give the Kings a fighting chance in the series.  

FINAL GRADE: A-; There should be no doubt who the Kings #1 goaltender is going forward but you can almost bet that TM will have to answer all the same questions regarding which goaltender will be the Kings #1 next season.  While Quick's stickhandling is still suspect and he is still susceptible to giving up a 'soft' goal every once in a while, his improved conditioning has allowed his athleticism to really shine through.  If he continues to improve, 40 wins aren't out of the question next season.

Jonathan Bernier
JONATHAN BERNIER
2010-11 Stats: 25 GP, 11 Wins, 2.48 GAA, .913 SV%, 3 Shutouts
Signed thru 2012-13; $1.25M

After absolutely dominating the AHL last season, Bernier finally arrived in the NHL full-time for the 2010-11 season.  Whether it was TM learning from last season that he needed to trust his backup more or just Bernier getting accustomed to the NHL grind; Bernier's game improved as the season progressed.  His splits tell the story.

Pre All-Star: 14 GP, 5 Wins, .893 SV%, 3.08 GAA, 0 Shutouts
Post All-Star: 11 GP, 6 Wins, .939 SV%, 1.70 GAA, 3 Shutouts

In 23 starts, Bernier posted an 11-8-3 record with a 2.43 GAA and .912 SV%.  Funny stat line: In the seven games that last year's backup Erik Ersberg started: 3-3-1 record with a 2.43 GAA and .911 SV%.  Obviously the sample sizes differ and the similarities in numbers may be more a reflection of the Kings defensive system than anything elise but it's interesting none the less.  It's all relative...I guess.  Two goaltenders in completely different stages of their careers.  Bernier still only 21 years old has his best years ahead of him and is regarded as one of the top goaltending prospects in the world.  Erik Ersberg, a 27-year old NHL backup that garnered no interest around the league when he was placed on waivers by the Kings went to the KHL's Salvat Yulaev.  EE backstopped Yulaev to the KHL Championship posting a 1.93 GAA, 93.3 SV%, and 3 Shutouts.

FINAL GRADE: B; Bernier provided a backup option that TM trusted which allowed Quick some much needed rest during the regular season.  Had Quick suffered through any prolonged slumps Bernier may have had a chance to run with the job but it just didn't happen.  Bernier will continue to knock on the door next season and may eventually become the Kings #1 option.  But with Martin Jones impressive debut season with the Monarchs and Quick's improving game; don't be surprised if you hear Bernier's name discussed in possible trades going forward.  Anyway you slice it, having two proven NHL goaltenders now and possibly a third on the way is a good problem to have.

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