Wailing on the Jennings Trophy

Jen-nings Tro-phy?

Excuse us LA Kings fans if we had no idea there was a trophy given out for stalwart defense and all-around solid goaltending.

See, while the Kings have enjoyed a bit of success during their 46 years in the NHL, the truth is they’ve been one of the most underwhelming franchises in the league’s history.

That trend has slowly begun to change in the Dean Lombardi Era, and the team is shifting from a middling afterthought to a playoff mainstay and perennial Stanley Cup contender.

Still, that doesn’t wash away the years of ineptitude.

Take for instance the LA Kings track record when it comes to their history of goaltending and team defense.

Before the beginning of the 2013-14 season, the Kings had played 3506 games in franchise history. And during that span, they managed to give up an astounding 11,606 goals, which translates to a sparkling 3.31 goals against average.

Obviously, most of these games were played in a different era. But, for the sake of argument, the other teams that came into the league the same season as the Kings (and still remain in the NHL) have given up:

  • Minnesota North Stars/Dallas Stars – 11,102 goals
  • Philadelphia Flyers – 10,411 goals
  • Pittsburgh Penguins – 12,352 goals
  • St Louis Blues – 10,687 goals

As proven by Jonathan Quick’s record-breaking performance to become the franchise’s all-time winningest goaltender last week, this team simply was never built on defense.

That’s what makes these past few years, and this season in particular, even more remarkable. With Lombardi at the helm and Terry Murray Darryl Sutter behind the bench, gone are the days of trying to win with a poorly built offensive scheme, shaky defensive play and a prayer-based goaltending strategy.

I mean, no team in this day and age could honestly believe that system would work…

maple leafs sadOh this is awkward.

Still, this recent turnaround has been a beacon of hope for a fanbase that felt nothing great would ever happen for their hockey team.

And now, the Kings gave a chance to win an award that can’t be decided by the oh-sure-it-totally-doesn’t-exist East Coast Bias.

Heading into tonight’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Kings find themselves in a two-horse race for the Jennings Trophy, which is awarded to “the goalkeeper(s) having played a minimum of 25 games for the team with the fewest goals scored against it. Winners are selected based on regular-season play.”

As it stands now, the Kings have allowed 155 goals in their 73 games (2.123 per game) and the Boston Bruins have given up 153 in their 72 games (2.125 per game).

nhl goals allowedSweet throwback logo, NHL dot com.

Should the Kings finish the season with fewer goals allowed than the Bruins, it would mark the first time that the franchise won any sort of goaltending award.

Jonathan Quick Stands Alone

Despite the Jennings Trophy being a complete team effort, it is awarded to the goaltenders on the team that allows the fewest amount of goals.

Most years, that would mean that the starting goalie and his backup would share the honor.

This year, however, it very well may only be Jonathan Quick who earns the spoils.

Jon Quick Likes To Smile - The Royal Half

That’s because of the NHL’s stringent “the goaltender must have played at least 25 games” rule which would prohibit anyone else from sharing the award with Quick.

kings goalie statsThat just doesn’t seem right.

That’s right. Thanks for all of the hard work, Ben Scrivens. I’m sure you’ll get something nice later on, Martin Jones.

When Quick went down with a groin injury in November, it was the Scrivens-Jones tandem that carried the Kings into the new year.

For their efforts, Scrivens was traded away to the Edmonton Oilers, where he now spends his free time donating jerseys to rinkside fans, and when he’s not lugging his personal belongings to and from Manchester, Martin Jones can be found sitting on the Kings bench awkwardly laughing at Anze Kopitar’s Slovenian dance moves.

In the 31 seasons that the Jennings Trophy has been awarded, it has only had a sole winner 10 times (in non-lockout shortened seasons). Uncommon, but not rare.

What’s interesting to note, however, is that this wouldn’t be the first time a current member of the LA Kings was involved in winning the award, as Calgary Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff took home the honors all on his own during the 2005-06 season.

Now, how to tie that back with this year’s version of the Kings…

darryl sutter flamesThat’ll do nicely.

PumperNicholl is a lifelong LA Kings fan and actually learned how to speak English from Bob Miller by watching LA Kings games… and the Police Academy movies. You should probably follow PumperNicholl on Twitter @pumpernicholl