Jonathan Quick's Vezina Candidacy

If given just one word, a lot of people would describe Jonathan Quick as "elite" or "athletic" or "flexible" or "competitive." I would go with "polarizing."

Jonathan Quick, probably largely due to this tweet, has become the vexing figure taking the brunt of the analytics onslaught. To be clear, I probably didn't help things much when I wrote this article back in 2013. As I said in the article, though, I like Jonathan Quick. He's endlessly entertaining to me, and since sports are supposed to be entertaining, I enjoy him. Similar to modern analysts, though, I find - or rather, have found - his play frustrating at times.

Quick is a lot of things, but consistent has rarely been one of them. To be fair, this is largely the nature of being a goaltender in the NHL. More than any other position, goalies are hit by variance. Among a number of problems we have in evaluating goalies, that is probably the most difficult to measure out and account for. This is an exercise made more complex by the slim margins separating elite goalies from awful ones.

Case in point, from my article above: Jonathan Quick had a terrible set of regular season games in the calendar year of 2013, but if you add in his 20-game postseason sample, his numbers look pretty darn good. Is it right for 20 games to make or break a year-long sample? I'm not sure. It's what most hockey fans rely on, though.

Goaltender analysis is getting better, but methods used to get to a substantive point are generally not accepted by the general public. That includes the voters for the Vezina award: NHL General Managers. The league's movers and shakers are probably still more likely, in voting for this particular award, to vote on what their eyes tell them and how many games a player wins. Basic goalie measurements like Goals Against Average (bad) and Save Percentage (less terrible) also factor in.

Another factor that comes into play with every award is the "lifetime achievement" factor. If voters feel a player has been robbed before, they seem more likely to vote for him in the future. I don't think anyone wins an award on this outright, but close calls might get decided on it. Tie goes to the better résumé, basically. This is probably why Jonathan Quick lost out to Henrik Lundqvist in 2012, his sole excellent season.

Let's think about that for a moment. Jonathan Quick and Henrik Lundqvist were basically statistical equals in the 2011/12 season by basic measurements. Someone had to win the award, but Lundqvist wound up nearly doubling up Quick in votes (120 to 63). That was Quick's first appearance in the top-6 vote-getters for the award. On the other hand, Lundqvist has never not been in the top-6 Vezina vote-getters. Lundqvist didn't win that award for 2011-12 alone, he won it for every year proceeding that.

Quick has since returned to the top-6 just one time. In spite of that, he's a pundit's darling. He's made two U.S. Olympic teams and was the country's workhorse at the 2014 Games. He's long been regarded as one of the game's best, even if this is a fact disputed by things like objective evidence and on-ice performance.

My personal feelings on Jon Quick the goalie are: he's good, inconsistent, and fun to watch. I think that most hockey fans generally feel the same way, though they think about his inconsistency less than they should.

Braden Holtby might have locked up this award long ago. His 6-win lead over 2nd place (8 over Quick in 3rd place) in the league might be enough on its own. In every season since 2008-09, the Vezina winner was within 5 wins of the league lead.

However, his 2016 slump has opened the door for other candidates. His commanding lead in SV% has evaporated entirely. Since putting up a .947 SV% in December, he has posted a .909 SV% in January and a .906 in February so far. Despite this, he keeps winning. If that changes, and Jonathan Quick can pick up just a handful of wins on him, he will throw his hat in the ring almost certainly. Corey Crawford and (as always) Henrik Lundqvist are the only other likely candidates in the mix.

To win on SV% alone (as Tim Thomas did in 08-09), you have to dominate the category. No one is doing that this season. It follows, then, that the voting process will likely go as it has for a long time: is his SV% respectable and did he win a lot of games? If the answer is yes, then he will get votes. Jonathan Quick does well in these categories. On top of that, Quick is perceived as a "big game" player and GMs may feel he is owed for his body of work (two Stanley Cups, a Conn Smythe, a Jennings Trophy, and more thrilling saves than anyone else in the game). His résumé certainly beats Braden Holtby's. In fact, this is probably the biggest knock on Holtby's candidacy. His competition is full of guys that either have won (Henrik Lundqvist) or guys that voters might feel are owed a win (Quick, Corey Crawford).

If Quick wins the Vezina, it likely will require Kings' shooters to heat up and Caps shooters to cool off (and the continued mediocrity of Braden Holtby's 2016). This would allow Quick to win enough games to make himself a viable candidate. His SV% is already in striking distance. Makes a lot of sense for this award to be decided by the performance of a goalie's shooters, but it is what it is.

Will Quick win the Vezina? Probably not. However, Braden Holtby has left the door slightly open for other goalies, and Quick is definitely in the mix. I hope he wins because it would upset a lot of people. That is primarily how I enjoy Kings hockey these days. I hope he wins and I hope everyone else hates it. I can't wait to retweet that f*cking LA Kings tweet if he does. It will be glorious.