With one year left on his contract after this year, LA Kings’ Jonathan Quick isn’t ready to give up his number one goaltender status just yet.
Through the first 11 games of the LA Kings‘ 2021-22 season, Jonathan Quick has the ever-so-slight edge on Cal Petersen, with six starts in net to Cal’s five. Quick, 35, is off to a fine start this season, posting a 2.47 GAA and .915 SV% in a limited sample size. Furthermore, the future Hall-of-Famer has 0.5 goals-save-above-average (GSAA), remarkably improved over the previous three seasons.
The 2017-18 season was the last time Quick posted a net positive GSAA (16.9), winning the Jennings Trophy, which is given to ‘the goaltender having played a minimum of 25 games for the team with the fewest goals scored against it based on regular-season play.’
Last season, it appeared that Petersen was ready to take over as the No. 1 goaltender for the Kings after logging a 2.89 GAA and .911 SV% in 35 of the 56 games played. Todd McLellan has more or less been alternating Quick and Petersen through the first 11 games, despite Quick making back-to-back starts against Buffalo and St. Louis at the end of October.
Petersen was rewarded for his strong play last year with a brand new three-year contract extension before training camp. Quick still has another year left on his contract after this season, and if the early showings are any sign, he’s not ready to pass the torch quite yet.
Despite that, a friendly competition can be good for the Kings.
“We obviously both want to be net as much as we possibly can and help out the team,” Petersen said. “It’s one of those things where whenever our number is called upon, giving each other support, and then obviously giving the team the best chance to win. I think it’s a good thing for both of us. You know, I feel like my game is the best when Quickie is at his best, too. So hopefully, he feels the same way and we push each other.”
Petersen owns a 3.02 GAA with a .898 SV% in five starts this season. He’s been the victim of some unfortunate bounces, ill-timed goals allowed and rebounds allowed, as shown by his -2.1 GSAA.
For reference, the 27-year-old had a 3.9 GSAA and the tenth-best goalie-point share (6.9) to go along with 16 quality starts a year ago.
The Kings offense certainly hasn’t helped their goalies much in the early goings, forcing just 2.64 goals per game, good for 24th in the National Hockey League. As such, Los Angeles got off to a 1-5-1 start, but they have since ripped off four wins in a row.
“I think especially it’s hard, kind of the way that we started, to remember what it takes to win and the feeling of winning,” Petersen added. “I think sometimes when you’re on the wrong side of some of those bounces, you get discouraged. But you know, luckily, we’ve put ourselves in some hairy situations, but we’ve come out of it and learned how to win. So I think that’s huge.”
It will be interesting to see how McLellan handles the goalie tandem throughout the season, but if both goalies continue to push each other for playing time, that can only bode well for the Kings.
With Petersen making the start on Friday, the early indication is that Quick would be in line to start against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday. But we’ll see if that changes.