Were Jonathan Quick and the defending-champion Los Angeles Kings guilty of suffering from the Stanley Cup hangover, you ask?
Nothing like a little home-cooking to put that notion to bed. Any hangover Quick and his teammates may have been suffering from as the Kings fell down 0-2 to the St. Louis Blues in their opening-round match-up was quickly (ha ha!) remedied by the Kings’ winning games 3 & 4 back home in L.A. From that point on, the Kings absorbed every punch the Blues could throw at them, and found a way to close out St. Louis in six even though the Kings were NOT the best team in the series.
They were simply the team with the best goaltender, which ought to answer another question that I noticed the other day: is having a hot goaltender in the NHL playoffs overrated?
(Answer: hell no!)
In a series in which every single game was decided by one goal, Jonathan Quick surrendered a total of ten goals. Folks, that’s the number of goals that Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury gave up in just the third period of Tuesday night’s game against the Islanders! Ha ha ha! Okay, it only felt that way. You get the point: Quick was quicksand out there, swallowing nearly every shot St. Louis blasted at him, despite the fact that his miscues were arguably the reason why LA lost games 1 & 2 in the first place.
It’s not like Quick got much help, either; the Kings didn’t exactly light up the scoreboard themselves, as they managed only 12 goals for the series and were outshot by the Blues in four out of the six games. The Kings also allowed St. Louis to dictate the game on a good number of occasions, such as most of games 1 and 5, and the majority of the second period in game 6. But this was a bruising series in which hits (479) outnumbered shots on goal (uh, not 479!), which meant it all boiled down to quality, not quantity, when it came to scoring. That is where you have to give the Kings credit: they created just enough goals to put them in the position where they could ride Quick to the victory, and St. Louis did not.
Timely scoring aside, though, it was clear to anyone who watched the series that St. Louis was the better team most of the time. They hit the Kings hard, and often, and they generally seemed hungry and ready to avenge last year’s humiliating defeat at the hands of LA. Still, they just were not Quick enough (there I go again!), and ultimately, that is what cost them the series. Lest you think the Blues should consider themselves to have won a moral victory in this series, however, consider what Blues coach Ken Hitchcock had to say:
“What I’m going to tell them is it’s not good enough. If you want to be a champion, it’s not good enough. You can’t allow the goalie to outwork you. If you want to be a champion, you’re going to have to find a way. … We took everything to the beach, but we didn’t finish putting it in the water.”
At the end of the day, moral victories don’t mean much in the Stanley Cup playoffs; actual victories do, and anyone who wants to get past the Los Angeles Kings had better beware: Jonathan Quick has regained the form that made him the Conn Smythe Trophy winner in last year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, and he’s ready to get drunk from winning Lord Stanley’s Cup again. Everyone, beware!
Quoted secion courtesy of http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/hockey/nhl/gameflash/2013/05/10/32577_recap.html#ixzz2SxwU1Rwt