The Los Angeles Kings’ dominating 5-0 shutout victory over the Chicago Blackhawks Monday night was thanks in no small part to the play of Jonathan Quick, especially in the third period.
With the Blackhawks down 3-0 entering the third, an attack that had already tested Quick 16 times through the first two frames doubled their shot total and fired an additional 16 pucks Quick’s way. He shut down six Blackhawks power plays throughout the game, made a few big stops and when the buzzer went, Quick celebrated his 41st career shutout — the most of any American-born goaltender in NHL history.
The shutout put Quick one ahead of John Vanbiesbrouck, who plied his trade with the New York Rangers, Florida Panthers, Philadelphia Flyers, New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils. But Vanbiesbrouck notched his 40 shutouts over the span of 20 seasons. Quick, 30, has bested that mark by one in 11 fewer campaigns.
"It was a lot tougher for [Vanbiesbrouck] to get shutouts when he was playing," Quick told NHL.com’s Brian Hedger. "It's a situation where it's cool. It's a team effort, too, to get a shutout. You're thankful to all your teammates over the years, but at the same time, I think his shutouts are probably worth two of mine. So, take it with a grain of salt.”
And, sure, you can take Quick’s accomplishment with a grain of salt, but the fact of the matter is he has achieved something no other American-born goaltender in NHL history has. That includes present-day standouts who have had careers similar to Quick such as Ryan Miller, Craig Anderson, Jimmy Howard and to a lesser-extent Cory Schneider, who spent his early career as a backup before becoming a star in New Jersey.
With the way Quick has played over the past several seasons, it’s worth wondering if he isn’t well on his way to becoming the greatest American goaltender of all time, ahead of players such as Vanbiesbrouck, Mike Richter and Tom Barrasso. Quick already has the shutout record and before his career is through he could have the wins record to back up that claim.
The current wins record for American-born goaltenders is 374, also held by Vanbiesbrouck. It took him 882 games to get there, which is good for a winning percentage of .424. He didn’t have the benefit of 3-on-3 overtime or the shootout and he also spent five seasons of his career with the Florida Panthers when the club was just getting off the ground. The record may not be what it could have been had Vanbiesbrouck played with a team as skilled as the present-day Kings, but that can’t be held against Quick, who boasts a career winning percentage of .533.
Quick has seven years remaining on his contract with the Kings, and it’s hard to imagine they’ll move on from him before he hits the final few seasons of that deal. Averaging more than 30 wins per season shouldn’t be tough for Quick and the Kings, and, barring injury, there’s a good chance Quick is the winningest-American goaltender in NHL history by the time the end of the 2020 campaign rolls around. That would still mean another three seasons in Los Angeles, and a 34-year-old Quick could continue to add to his wins totla.
There will always be the argument made about hardware, though, but Quick can back that up, too. He has two Stanley Cups and a Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. The Kings are perennial contenders and likely will be for several seasons, meaning Quick will at least have the chance to add another Stanley Cup or two to his name. The only thing that Quick is really missing in terms of hardware is the Vezina Trophy, and all it would take is one great year like his 2011-12 season for him to potentially have his name etched on that trophy.
There are contenders to the throne, of course. Schneider will certainly compete for starting duties at the World Cup and Ben Bishop is no slouch, either. Divisional rival John Gibson could be the young up-and-comer who takes the throne in the future, and all this is without mentioning youngsters such as Connor Hellebuyck, Jon Gillies or Thatcher Demko, all of whom look promising in their own right.
But Quick, who told Hedger he grew up a fan of Vanbiesbrouck, is likely to take the title of best American-born goaltender before his career is up. The numbers, the accolades and the hardware will back Quick up, and when the time comes maybe his records will be broken by a young, American-born netminder who cites Quick as his favorite goaltender growing up.