News that Los Angeles Kings star goalie Jonathan Quick suffered a serious groin strain against Buffalo has not only put a serious case of the jitters into L.A. fans, but also American hockey fans thinking about the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
However, Quick’s injury is not cause for anyone to bust out the crying tissues and whip up ready-to-post eulogies for the Kings or Team U.S.A. just yet. In the case of both teams that need him, Quick’s understudies have the capability to hold the fort until he’s healthy again.
When news first broke Thursday that Quick was dealing with a Grade 2 groin strain, it was understandable that frown lines in the faces of Kings fans might deepen. Most athletes who have a Grade 2 strain (Grade 1 being the least-problematic type of strain) will be out a minimum of a couple weeks and possibly longer. We all know what Quick has meant to the franchise – and with L.A. locked in a battle to stay in the playoff picture in the ultra-competitive Western cConference, it’s understandable why there’s concern. But here’s the positive side: although there’s no Jonathan Bernier around anymore to step in and/or up in Quick’s absence, one of the players Bernier was traded for – former Maple Leafs netminder Ben Scrivens – is capable of handling the load.
I know skeptics will say that, despite his solid stats (including a 1.89 goals-against average and .924 save percentage), Scrivens has only appeared in five games as a King and hasn’t yet shown he can be trusted over the long haul. That may eventually turn out to be accurate, yet if you look at his numbers from last season when he was still battling James Reimer to establish himself as Toronto’s No. 1, Scrivens has been stellar over significant spans of time.
In eight of his first 12 games with the Leafs last year, Scrivens posted a save percentage of at least .914 or better. The 27-year-old ostensibly lost the job to Reimer in the following five games when he posted an SP of .875 or lower in four of them; when Reimer grabbed the starter’s job, it was virtually impossible for Scrivens to get another extended look. Now that he’ll get on in L.A., there’s every possibility he’ll give the Kings a chance to win.
As far as the Olympics goes, there’s no indication Quick’s injury will affect his ability to head to Sochi and compete in early February. But for argument’s sake, let’s say his health prevents him from playing for his country. Is anyone really going to argue the Americans don’t have a slew of other goalies from which to choose? Ben Bishop has been superb for the Tampa Bay Lightning; Cory Schneider and Ryan Miller have played as well as possible on terrible teams; and Craig Anderson and Jimmy Howard can provide top-notch netminding when they’re at their best.
There’s no question the Kings and the American Olympic squad are better with Quick in the mix. His athleticism and composure at crucial times are two of the attributes that have made him who he is. But hockey people understand the goaltender market has become flooded because there are so many options for GMs to consider and don’t count themselves out of any game, series or tournament simply because their presumptive starter is on the sidelines.
Quick is one of the best goalies in the game today, but he’s not the only one.