Jonathan Quick has been needed revelation as Rangers’ backup

Once upon a time, there was a cottage industry ranking Willie Mays’ biggest catches, with dozens listed in the catalogue. “Say Hey Kid,” he famously replied when asked for his opinion on the special game against the Dodgers at Ebbets Field. Just catch it. ”

The Rangers did not sign midfielder Jonathan Quick as a free agent last summer. For the first time in a 16-year career that included two Stanley Cup championships and a Hockey Hall of Fame plaque, he will be the team’s backup from start to finish.

Few netmind immortals have attempted that transition, even on the final hole of the back nine. But Quick, who served as a substitute in Las Vegas late last season after being kicked to the curb by the Kings, was ready for the task. More than that, he accepted it.

And the 38-year-old (as of January 21) posted an 11-4-2 record with a 2.36 GAA and a .918 save percentage after a stellar 32-save effort for the Blueshirts’ impressive team. It suddenly attracted attention in the internet world. On Monday, Alexis Lafreniere defeated Alexander Georgiev with 1 minute 53 seconds left in overtime to give the Avalanche a 2-1 overtime victory at the Garden.

Jonathan Quick looks on during the Rangers’ victory over the Avalanche on February 5, 2024. Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

Quick was acrobatic and instinctive. He was technically sound and aggressive, making perhaps the best save of the night on a one-timer from inside Miko Rantanen with less than a minute left in regulation. Nathan MacKinnon’s dash to the rink put the Rangers behind late in the first period, but the netminder kept them in the game until Artemi Panarin scored midway through the third period.

When the game was over and the Blueshirts recorded a win, conscious of the wins they had racked up after an 18-4-1 start, I asked Quick if he wanted to evaluate his work this season in an unfamiliar role. Ta.

“You know, I’m not really interested in ratings,” Quick said, echoing Mays’ sentiments, if not quite poetically. “Your job within the team doesn’t matter, right?

“You recognize that and when you get an opportunity to play for your team you try to make the most of it.”

Also. Quick was consistently there even when Igor Shesterkin wasn’t as reliable as expected. There are no goalie controversies on Broadway — again, there are no goalie controversies on Broadway — but it’s comforting to know that No. 2 is No. 1 for life, even if it changes shape.

I suggested to Peter Laviolette that when the head coach pencils Quick’s name on the lineup card, he probably doesn’t think he’s playing as a backup.

“Not at all,” Laviolette said. “I think every time he comes to the rink, he’s ready to start and play. Not only that, but he’s built an unbelievable relationship with the players that are in this room as teammates.

“I only had the opportunity to work with Jonathan once at an event in America, but as time goes on and you get to work with someone, you realize that you appreciate everything that person brings to the table. You always say, ‘It’s not just what you see on the ice, it’s what he brings to the locker room.’

On February 5, 2024, Jonathan Quick made a save in the Rangers’ win over the Avalanche. USA Today Sports

The Rangers appeared to be stuck in a quagmire for much of the first period as the speedy Avalanche pushed the pace. It definitely didn’t help that in his first 12 minutes and 53 seconds he was shorthanded three times, and one of those times was due to a gross umpire blunder. However, the Blueshirts held on as the game wore on and were at least able to tilt the rink back to level ground.

They played with as much confidence as the first-place team that opened the season 18-4-1, believing that if they could keep this up, they could do something. The combat level remained constant. The pace picked up. The Rangers went into attack mode.

“I believe our confidence has never wavered,” Quick, who assisted on the game-winning goal, told the Post. “We know this is a long year and we have to take the good and the bad. At the beginning of the year it seemed like everything was going our way, we were beating teams, we were losing close games. They won the match in a variety of ways, including winning against and coming from behind.

“That’s not a scenario that lasts more than 82 games. We know that no matter how good you are, you’re going to face adversity at some point. We were able to come out with a win coming off the break. [against Ottawa on Jan. 27] And we got a win here after the break, so it feels really good. ”

Jonathan Quick was named the first star after the Rangers’ win over the Avalanche on February 5, 2024. NHLI (via Getty Images)

The Rangers had little offense throughout the 40 minutes. That has become a pattern, with the club now scoring two or fewer goals in eight of their past 11 games. It is a well-known fact that there is an urgent need to hire a third line center.

However, the club persevered and continued to dominate in the third period. They tied the score when Panarin, on the second shift of a double shift with Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider, went on a lap route, weaving through traffic and beating one car. they continued.

It was quick. And indeed it is.

Hey, say it!