While Saturday night's loss came with controversy, the Los Angeles Kings are still in good shape. They could lose the final three games of their regular-season schedule and still finished where they are right now: third in the Pacific Division. Of course, with that said, it would be nice to string together a few wins to generate as much momentum as they can entering the postseason. Yet, while some players have slacked a bit since clinching, one department the Kings have not had to worry about is the goaltending, particularly Jonathan Quick who is a great shot at collecting some hardware.
The William M. Jennings has been handed out to a goaltenders - whether to an individual or a tandem - since 1982 and in those 32 years, no Kings netminder has won the award. That trend has a very good chance of changing this year as the silver-and-black, as of Sunday, lead the league with the fewest goals against with a mark of 166. However, the Boston Bruins are right on their tail with 167, although the B's do have a game in hand.
While Los Angeles received a plethora of support in goal from Ben Scrivens and then Martin Jones before the new year, neither is eligible to win the award alongside Quick. As per league rules, goaltenders have play a minimum of 25 regular-season games in order to be eligible. Before being traded to Edmonton, Scrivens played in 19 games for the Kings. As for Jones, with just 18 games under his belt, the most games he can play is 21. That leaves Jonathan Quick as the sole (potential) recipient of the award - but nothing can be taken away from the aforementioned Scrivens and Jones.
I think I can speak for most Kings fans when I say that I felt a sinking feeling when Jonathan Quick left his team's November 2 game in Buffalo with a groin injury. The next day was mental torture as I tried to fathom what life would be like with Quick who, as announced, would be sidelined for the next six to eight weeks. I admit that my feelings were, to put it lightly, over-dramatic. But with all due respect to the likes of Kopitar, Doughty and Brown, Jonathan Quick had been the Kings' MVP for the previous few seasons and temporary life without No. 32 seemed next to impossible to imagine. But Kings fans weren't given any choice. Luckily, Ben Scrivens came in and filled the void admirably before Martin Jones took over, tying a league-record at 8-0-0 to start a career. Jones proved to be so good that there suddenly wasn't any rush for Quick's return.
When Jonathan Quick did return, he slowly but surely regained his form and like the best players in the game, only got better as the season progressed.
En route to breaking the franchise's all-time wins mark, the 28-year-old Quick has gone 27-17-2 with a 2.03 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage with six shutouts and even a pair of assists. But while he is very deserving of the William Jennings Trophy, Martin Jones has certainly made his mark as the new backup in Los Angeles.
In his 18 games, the former Calgary Hitmen goaltender has gone 11-6 with a sultry 1.91 GAA and a .932 save percentage. Jones also recorded three shutouts along the way, using his lanky 6-foot-4 frame to his advantage.
But of course, while he is no longer a King, Ben Scrivens does deserve his share of accolades during his brief stint with the Kings.
In his 19 games, Scrivens went 7-5-4 with a GAA of 1.977 and a save percentage of .931.
If the numbers fall in favour of the Los Angeles Kings at season's end, only Jonathan Quick's name will be engraved on the Jennings Trophy. But as well-deserved as that would be, I sincerely hope Kings fans will give praise to Martin Jones and Ben Scrivens who were both integral reasons for Los Angeles's low goals against total this season.
As a sidebar, if Quick does take home the hardware, I'd be interested to hear what three-time co-winner of the award (and current Anaheim Ducks' colour man) Bryan Hayward has to say about it. Being so ridiculously biased, the all-too-annoying Hayward may make a crack about Quick still needing two to catch up to him. With that said, Hayward would very likely neglect to point out that in each year he's won the award, his teammate Patrick Roy carried the brunt of the load. But I digress.
It may not be official but as far as I'm concerned, should the Kings take home the Jennings Trophy this season, the winners would be both Jonathan Quick and Martin Jones with a very special thanks to Ben Scrivens.