Ten predictions for the second half
January, 7, 2014
By Craig Custance | ESPN.com
Harry How/Getty ImagesJonathan Quick is back for the Kings, and that makes them one of the NHL's teams to beat.We’d be willing to forgive a little rust. You would expect that a goalie who misses significant time to injury would need a period -- or even a full game -- to get the timing back. Yet twice this week we’ve seen two of the best goalies in the game drop back into the lineup and earn impressive wins.
In his first action since Nov. 12, Jonathan Quick made 27 saves to shut down the Canucks on Saturday.
“He missed seven weeks, and it didn’t even look like he missed a game,” said Kings (and Team USA) teammate Dustin Brown when we chatted Monday.
Reigning Vezina winner Sergei Bobrovsky was just as impressive Monday night. He made 40 saves to earn a big shootout win over the Rangers, one that pulled the Blue Jackets within three points of the Rangers and five of a playoff spot.
Those two performances could provide a preview of what’s to come from Quick and Bobrovsky, who lead off my list of 10 bold predictions for the second half of the NHL season:
1. A healthy Quick will return to his place as the NHL’s best goalie
Even before his groin injury, Quick wasn’t playing up to his standards. He had a .903 save percentage in October, well below his career average of .914, or what we’d expect from the game’s best goalie. But this is a guy who can turn it up when the games tighten, and that’s what is about to happen as the Kings battle in the impossible Pacific and Quick tries to earn starting time with Team USA.
“I think [the Olympics] are one of those things that will be in the back of his mind, but I also don’t think that’s how Quickie thinks,” Brown said. “He’s more concerned, as everyone on our team should be, about the Kings.