The Los Angeles Kings were lucky to squeak into the playoffs as the No. 8 seed after a disappointing season for a team many heralded as the best in the Western Conference. Perhaps the biggest reason for the playoff berth was goaltender Jonathan Quick, who put an offensive-deprived Kings team on his back the entire season, earning a Vezina Trophy nomination along the way.
With the Kings leading the St. Louis Blues 2-0 in their second round matchup, Quick is becoming a household name in more than just the greater Los Angeles area.
Quick played the fourth most games during the regular season, posting a 35-21-13 record. His 1.95 goals-against average, was second behind only Brian Elliot of the Blues. It was a career year for the 26-year-old, whose 10 shutouts set a franchise record; but those numbers might not be good enough to earn him the Vezina over Pekke Rinne, or Henrik Lundqvist, who is also a Hart Trophy finalist. But with the way Quick has played in the playoffs thus far, it seems clear that there is only one piece of hardware he wants in his collection.
In the playoffs, the former UMass product is 6-1, with a jaw-dropping 1.56 goals-against average and a .952 save percentage.
In the first round the Kings were huge underdogs against the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Vancouver Canucks, but it never looked that way on the ice. Los Angeles got their offense cooking and went on to embarrass the Canucks in five games. That simply wasn’t enough though.
Now it’s the Blues, another heavily favored team, and the Kings are out to prove that round one wasn’t just a fluke.
Throughout the first two games, Los Angeles has outplayed the Blues on both sides of the puck and Quick has continued to come up with big time saves. But he shouldn’t get all the credit.
The defense in front of him as been excellent, leading a balanced attack and bringing the physicality when it has been needed. Willie Mitchell and former 2009 Stanley Cup winner Rob Scuderi have been steady contributors to the back check, which might just be why Quick and the Kings have allowed just nine goals in seven games.
With the series at 2-0 and shifting back to Los Angeles, the Kings have St. Louis right where they want them after Tuesday night’s 5-2 shellacking, looking poised to make the Western Conference Finals.
Photo Credit: Frank Orris/Icon SMI