Jonathan Quick is better than this. The Los Angeles Kings' goaltender opened the season on Wednesday night, October 7, by giving up 5 goals to the San Jose Sharks, and he gave up 4 goals in the first two periods of his next game against the Arizona Coyotes.
I’ve written about Quick before, specifically how his game shines on the biggest stage. This isn't a secret. It's also not a secret that he has his critics. He relies on extremely aggressive positioning, which requires dedicated defensive support, and sometimes things get out of hand.
His positioning isn't the only part of his game that can be overly aggressive. At 6:07 of the 2nd period in the season-opener, Brent Burns and his beard scored a goal from just above the face-off circle to Quick’s left. The shot beat Quick high on his glove side, and gave the Sharks a 3-1 lead.
To be blunt, I really hate Quick's play on this goal, and I don't understand it at all.
The play starts innocently enough, with the puck low in the corner to Quick’s right.
Quick is in his reverse V-H. The puck is a little far away for this position here, but that's his style. San Jose rotates the puck back to their left point, and over to Brent Burns on the Sharks’ right point. Quick follows the play, and sees Burns take possession.
At this point, Quick has a relatively clear sightline and is near the top left corner of his crease. The Sharks Joonas Donskoi steps in front of Quick to set a screen, from Quick’s right. Then, things just get… weird.
Drew Doughty is moving to engage with Donskoi, but before he arrives, Quick reaches out with his blocker hand and punches Donskoi in the back.
Nearly simultaneously, Burns shoots. Quick has no idea where the puck is or where it is going. The shot beats him high on his glove side, but he doesn’t see it. Even though its a beautiful shot by Burns, it’s a terrible goal.
Donskoi is a half stride clear of the crease when Quick initiates contact with him. Quick has plenty of room to maneuver to retain visual contact with the puck, but that's not what he does. He doesn't even push Donskoi out of the way, but only moves him slightly forward along the same sight line. Worse, Quick’s follow through completely rotates his body, so that he is facing to his left, and his left shoulder is rotated away from the puck.
By the time he resets his feet and restores his shoulder angle, it's too late.
Is this an indictment of Jonathan Quick? Not even close. It is, however, one factor that might help explain his inconsistency when the lights don’t shine quite as brightly as they do in the playoffs. He gives up visual contact with the puck, and sacrifices body position, in order to punch an opposing forward square in the middle of the back.
At home, opening night, down by a goal, I don't understand. I mean, if you're Jonathan Quick and you already have your name inscribed on two Stanley Cups, what message do you really need to send?