There has been a lot of talk about Jonathan Quick's late push for Vezina consideration. Yes, it's true that Quick has been stellar this season, especially lately, but let's not kid ourselves: the Vezina clearly belongs to Henrik Lundqvist this season. I know what you're thinking: "But their numbers are virtually identical, why can't there at least be a debate?" Well, let me tell you a little thing about context. Their numbers are similar, but the situations are far different.
Namely, Henrik Lundqvist put up those numbers while playing for the New York Rangers.
We're kind of spoiled with good defensive play here in Los Angeles so it's just customary to expect it but other franchises are not so lucky. The Rangers are pretty shitty at defense... well, shitty when compared to LA, I should clarify. Of their defensemen I guess Dan Girardi would make the Kings (although he seems a little redundant with Alec Martinez already on the team) but the rest would probably be making the short drive up to Manchester. The Rangers allowed a voluminous 27.9 shots per game while the Kings allowed only a fraction of that. Quick's workload was far less.
Quick has had the benefit of playing with Drew Doughty, Willie Mitchell, Jack Johnson and the rest of the Kings' fabulous defensive players, and that's before you get into comparing forwards like Mike Richards & Anze Kopitar to Derek Stepan and Brian Boyle (a guy who wasn't even good enough to play on the Kings when they weren't Western Conference playoff caliber). I'm sorry but he has to be penalized a bit for that.
And that doesn't even begin to factor in the disparities between their competition. The Rangers play in a very tough division with far superior teams like the Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers, and New Jersey Devils. Those teams have such advantages in skill, front office and fanbases, how could the Rangers ever compete without the abilities of Lundqvist? The Kings play tough teams too, like the San Jose Sharks, Detroit Red Wings & Vancouver Canucks, but imagine if they had to play those teams while being shitty? That would really suck.
So, my friends, don't begrudge Henrik Lundqvist his Vezina. He had to play tougher competition with shittier teammates. Maybe Quick could have duplicated Lundqvist's numbers without the benefit of good players in front of him but alas, we'll never know. Besides, you can argue that Lundqvist deserves this one; I mean c'mon, he has to play for the Rangers.
Oh right, this is tonight. I always like when the Kings play the Sharks because the match-up possibilities are pretty awesome. Uber-dork Rick Knickle detailed what we've seen so far this year over at Jewels From The Crown. Good stuff, especially because it highlights how much Kopitar owns.
Tonight's game should be fun! Also, terrifying. I'm buying liquor.
Prediction: Kings win, Coyotes lose, Bailey rides his ATV off a ramp up to the rafters and hangs the division banner.