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Jonathan Quick Proving To Be Kings’ Anchor

Everyone knows what the Los Angeles goaltender is capable of, but can the Blackhawks beat him?

Vancouver Canucks v Los Angeles Kings - Game FourIt’s been almost two years since Jonathan Quick came out of virtually nowhere, put the Los Angeles Kings on his back and led the franchise to its first Stanley Cup championship.  Now, it appears as though the 28-year-old is doing it again, with the Kings on the verge of heading to the finals yet again.

For Quick, the Stanley Cup Playoffs certainly didn’t begin the way he hoped.  In a first round matchup against the Kings’ in-state rivals, the San Jose Sharks, Los Angeles’ got off to a rocky start.  With the series beginning in San Jose, the Sharks took a quick two games to none lead, at the mercy of Quick.  In those first two losses, Quick allowed an abysmal 12 goals, stopping just 56 shots on 68 attempts, while appearing to have difficulty both handling the puck and moving east and west in the goal crease.

Things got better for Quick in front of his hometown crowd and despite a Game 3 loss at the Staples Center, the former Conn Symthe winner allowed four goals on 40 shots.  It was a sign of improvement, considering he received little help from his defense.  Then it all came together for Quick and the Kings.

After a dry spell on offense that began weeks before, the Kings’ forwards woke up and began to light the lamp against a Shark team that’s become synonymous with the word choke.  Los Angeles would go on to score 18 goals over the next four games, making them the fifth team in professional sports to overcome a 3-0 deficit in the postseason.  But it was as much their offense as it was the man with the knight helmet in between the pipes.  During the comeback, Quick allowed just five goals, tallied a shutout and proved he was once again a forced to be reckoned with during postseason play.

Quick really hasn’t slowed down much since.  After that, the Kings narrowly defeated the Anaheim Ducks in seven games, while their goaltender shut down the top scoring – based on goals per game – team in the NHL during the regular season.  In the last two games of the series, games that were both win or go home for the Kings, Quick allowed just three goals – and made some impressive saves.

Next came the defending champions, the Chicago Blackhawks.  With Los Angeles a slight underdog, it wasn’t going to be easy and that was evident after a Game 1 loss to the ‘hawks.  But everything, including the series, changed during a Game 2 save by Quick.  With the Kings trailing 2-0 on the road, Quick came up with a huge save midway through the second period and as a result, the Kings exploded for six unanswered goals to end the game, handing Chicago its first home playoff loss.

Quick has remained solid, coming up with big saves when needed, ensuring that his team has remained in each playoff game since his early meltdown.  He’s got a 2.63 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage, providing some quietly solid performances this spring.  Now, with a three games to two lead over Chicago, Los Angeles needs to finish off the Blackhawks and put the difficult double-overtime Game 5 loss behind them.

If Hollywood wants to see its second Stanley Cup in two years, Quick will have to play solid, error-free hockey as the Kings look to put away the pesky, pseudo dynasty that is Chicago.  He’s been good as of late, but the Kings cannot afford for him to revert back to his earlier ways.

Ed Miller is a contributor for CraveOnline Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @PhillyEdMiller or “like” CraveOnline Sports on Facebook.

Photo Credit: Getty