Tuesday, June 05, 2012

The Kings Make it Reign*

What the LA Kings are doing is nothing short of amazing. They are 15-2 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They're 10-0 on the road. And all as an 8 seed. Simply unreal.

Those two words also describe the performance of Jonathan Quick. He's allowed 24 goals in 17 games this postseason. He has a 1.36 GAA after last night's 4-0 shutout over New Jersey (Quick's 3rd of the playoffs). His SV% in the postseason is .950. Only one out of twenty shots on goal are getting past him. In the Finals, he has a GAA of 0.59, and a SV% of .972.

Last night the Kings killed 6 New Jersey power plays, including a 5-on-3. Quick stopped 22 shots. Anze Kopitar had a goal and an assist. Jeff Carter scored a PP goal. One of the assists on that goal was from Mike Richards. Sorry, Philadelphia. Dustin Brown had an assist. As did Drew Doughty.

The Kings have won mostly because of Quick. But they've got a roster full of solid guys who can score, who can play smart, who can play physical, and who can keep themselves from getting in bad positions.

They've also been able to keep their key players healthy. That's a reward for winning their previous series so easily. They only needed 14 games to get to the Finals. The Devils needed 18. Five of which went to OT. The Kings only played two overtime games.

Ilya Kovalchuk is obviously hurting, and without him, the Devils' offense is considerably less potent. Kovalchuk has only managed 5 shots on goal in the Finals. He had been averaging over 3 per game in previous rounds, and over 4 per game in the regular season. The Devils are 7-2 in the playoffs when he manages to get more than 3 shots on goal, 5-7 when he doesn't. The Devils are 6-1 when he scores, 6-8 when he doesn't.

It's possible that the Devils can turn this into a series, but hard to imagine. Quick, Brown, Doughty, Carter, Kopitar, they're all playing very well right now. And the Devils' best forward is not physically at 100%. The one detraction I'll make on this amazing run of theirs is that these series are getting a tad boring.

The Kings winning is good for hockey. It's a big market, obviously. So that's good for TV contracts and drawing fans. It's a warm weather city that has shown an interest in the game (the Kings had 100% attendance and were 15th in total attendance). But the team itself also play the game the right way. They have some American stars (Quick is from Milford, CT, Dustin Brown is from Ithaca, NY), and some likable players. Not to mention a funny, well-run, engaging Twitter feed.

Game 4 Wednesday night in LA.

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