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Jonathan Quick is being exposed - the keys to beating him (broken down)

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*somewhat of a long read but excellent detail that shows how and why Quick is playing so poorly against the Sharks / what they are doing to exploit him*



An early storyline of the 2014 playoffs has been the struggles of goaltender Jonathan Quick. The Kings have stumbled against the Sharks and Quick has given up 16 goals through three playoff games. For a goaltender who forged his reputation during a 2012 Cup run and Conn Smythe-winning performance highlighted by athletic, fan-friendly saves, fans might be confused as to why Quicks clutch gene malfunctions.

He is a fun goaltender to watch because he plays like his hair is on fire and when he is supported defensively he is an impact player, but left unsupported his style can lead to major blowups. And ultimately, Quicks reputation exceeds his save percentage. It is the final category in which a goaltenders greatness is generally judged and with an elite number Quick would solidify his reputation among the best in the world.


Although Quicks .915 career save percentage is above the NHL average, it puts him in the same statistical middle class as James Reimer (.914), Craig Anderson (.915) and Mike Smith (.915). The problem is if we isolate his numbers against his goaltending partners during his Kings career they register a .914a difference of .001.

Seeing as this is the shot quality project, I am open to a defence of Quick based around him being exposed to more difficult shots. My research has uncovered goaltenders who have been exposed to higher-quality opportunities who compare favourably if we normalize the results. I dont have a full database for Quick, but of the 1,600 Kings shots I have tracked, L.A. falls on the side of slightly above average in limiting Quicks exposure to high quality opportunities.


Success in the offensive zone is predicated on lateral offensive movement. Good teams move opposing goaltenders out of position and exploit passing lanes. A goaltenders best defence against that is taking an efficient route to the puck. Quicks struggles are generally his own creation. Like Tim Thomas, he is super aggressive and tends to guess and over commit. When that happens he chases the play and finds himself scrambling for recoveries.

I am forever intrigued by the way baseball and basketball continue to push the technical boundaries of what is possible to measure. Based on the trajectory, speed and arc of a batted ball, baseball has recently produced a graphic that shows routes taken to the ball compared to the optimal path. Basically, it is now possible to decipher the best possible route to the ball from a fielders starting point.

Like outfielders, there are optimal routes a goaltender can take to square up the shooter and remain ahead of the play. When goaltenders take sub-optimal routes due to lack of speed, poor tracking or just poor paths, they can be badly exposed without proper defensive support. We cant yet decipher a goalies best path to the puck, and with our eye tests being open to bias, we can miss these flags if the end result is positive because of strong defensive coverage. If a shot never comes or a miraculous save is made, poor routes can be replaced by he battles comments.

To illustrate this I tracked Quick to see how effective his crease containment was and how often he took sub-optimal routes based on his aggressive depths and tendency to gamble.


Quick is comfortable outside of his crease, often cutting down his angle up to 10 feet outside the blue paint. That does provide strong net coverage if the shot lacks any lateral movement, but the minute the puck starts going side to side, the routes he takes become longer and net coverage becomes more difficult. Considering how dangerous the SQP determined the lateral pass to be, Quicks aggressiveness is not sustainable on a poor defensive team.

For some context, I also tracked a similarly numbered event game for Carey Price (51-53 Corsi events). He is not extreme like Henrik Lundqvist, but is pretty close to the goalie coach blueprint in regards to depth and efficient route creation.

Price rarely wanders further than four to five feet from his crease. That means shorter recovery routes on rebounds and lateral feeds.


Whereas Prices route may require five to six feet, Quick puts himself in a position where he needs to recover with eight-to-ten foot routes.


Quick is four-to-six feet above the paint even with the lateral backside danger in play. When the backside recovery becomes a reality, Quick immediately shifts into desperation mode.


If his depth is a more manageable one-to-two feet above the crease, he allows himself plenty of time to read the lateral feed and power stride into position. His route speed will be maximized because he maintains his feet, which allows him the chance to make a desperation backside recovery of three-to-four feet if a second lateral event occurs. Quicks initial depth decision created a cascade of secondary decisions that moved outside optimal-route efficiency and ultimately ended up in a goal. Its too simple to consider this a no chance or nothing he could do goal. This is an aspect of the game that is rarely covered when explaining the goaltending position and the simple mental decisions that result in goals.

During the single-game samples I studied, Quick needed to travel 114 feet more than Price to get into his positions. That is a major problem if your defence cannot compensate for your aggressionand it was exposed last season when Quicks save percentage was only .533 on lateral feeds.

Stopping pucks has become a mathematical problem based on probabilities, routes and speed. There will always be an efficient route and proper decision regardless of the goaltender. With proper tracking technology we will be able to create efficient scenarios that highlight goaltenders who excel in defensive independent scenarios. Until then, guys like Quick will only be exposed when placed in sub-optimal conditions like the first two games against the Sharks.

The problem early in the series isnt really Quick, it is the Kings defensive failure to insulate him from high-leverage situations.

Neat little read, hope some of you liked it.

Short summary: Quick is a successor of the defensive structure the Kings play. The moment they fall off their game a little bit, it's survival mode for Quick. His aggressive goaltending nature is what makes and breaks him but in all, he is a poor cross-crease goaltender. The moment you get him to move laterally, you increase your chances of scoring as he has lots of ice to cover to come across to make the save. Also leads to more fatigue adding up throughout the game for Quick and the Sharks have done a textbook job this series of doing so.

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And Bernier saves the leagues worst defensive team night in and night out.

Hate to say it this early, but Bernier may just be > Quick.

Interesting read though!

I expect the PTSD will set in around midseason next year.

Call it shell shock or combat fatigue, or what have you, but he's going to see more rubber than an LA casting couch.

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Look at the goals we scored against him in our 2-1 victory earlier this month. The pucks moving across the crease and going lateral.

He's a lot like Thomas. Fantastic goalie on his own that turns God-like and looks unbeatable when supported by a defensive system or at the very least, a team that's sound at playing position and can maintain puck possession.

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Quick's weaknesses:

  • Too aggressive/too dependent on the team's defense
  • Shots up high
  • 200 foot shots

Quick's strengths:

  • Great lateral movement
  • Great at stopping low shots
  • Great at stopping point shots

His strengths somewhat combat his weaknesses, as his great lateral movement helps him recover from being too aggressive, but he will have to alter his game a little bit if he wants to be successful in his older years.

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Thanks for the read.

So skilled teams capable of making lateral passes will eat him alive. Makes sense how we dealt with them handily in 2010 but have struggled since.

Yep and this is why Hawks can always beat Kings by scoring 5 goals on them.

I've been saying this for the longest time
Quick would be garbage if he played for the canucks

I've been saying that he is overrated and was hoping for Quick to be exposed. Good on SJS and their coaching staff for figuring out how to score a bunch on him. But having said that, I don't think Quick would be garbage playing on Canucks. He has basic athleticism and foundations there. He's still a good goalie but not this great god-like goalie as CBC guys praise him all the time.

On the side note, I think and have always thought Schneider is a better goalie than Quick and it goes without saying that

Luongo (in his prime) >>> Quick as Luongo (in prime) > Schneider.

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