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L.A. Kings quick with praise, motivation for goalie Jonathan Quick

Jonathan Quick carried Kings to 2012 Stanley Cup and is carrying them in 2013 playoffs. But that won't stop Coach Darryl Sutter from trying to light a fire under him.

May 31, 2013|By Lisa Dillman
  • Kings goalie Jonathan Quick catches his breath during a break in the second period of Game 7 against the Sharks.
Kings goalie Jonathan Quick catches his breath during a break in the second… (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)

CHICAGO — It wasn't long ago that the Kings' Jonathan Quick had to listen and, presumably, read about all the other great goaltenders in the NHL.

Especially from Kings Coach Darryl Sutter.

Sutter raved about the All-Star goalie from his Calgary days, Miikka Kiprusoff, and made comparisons last season between Kiprusoff and Quick, suggesting Quick still had to prove his worth over a period of time.

Again, last season, he shrewdly engaged in more motivational tactics with Quick, using the Sharks' Antti Niemi as the impetus.

One Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe Trophy later, Quick has become the measuring stick. In this playoff run, he has set the lofty standard with a league-leading three shutouts, a 1.50 goals-against average and a .948 save percentage.

That brings us to Game 1 of the Western Conference finals between the Blackhawks and the Kings, which begins 2 p.m. PDT Saturday at United Center. Game 2 is set for 5 p.m. Sunday, a rare back-to-back circumstance in the playoffs.

Friday featured official media sessions for the teams. The first two questions coming Corey Crawford's way had to do with Quick. Not much later, the Chicago goalie was asked if he felt he was getting enough respect going into this series.

And remember, Crawford and colleague Ray Emery won the Jennings Trophy this year, given to the goalies on the team with the fewest goals allowed during the regular season.

"He's had a helluva year," Sutter said. "Didn't he win the Jennings? You better give Corey Crawford lots of credit."

But it all keeps coming back to Quick. His teammates and more than one analyst contend he might be better now than he was during last season's dazzling postseason performance. At this juncture of the 2012 playoffs, Quick was suffering from an injured back, which later required surgery in the off-season.

"It doesn't matter if it's Game 7 of the conference semis or game three of the season," Kings center Anze Kopitar said. "He's going to make that save or one of those saves. I've just seen it too many times to say I'm shocked about it.

"I think he's spoiling us."

Quick has gotten better in the latter stages of the first two rounds, a six-game series win against the St. Louis Blues and the seven-game marathon against the San Jose Sharks.

"The advantage is you know what they're trying to do," Quick said. "The disadvantage is they know what you're trying to do. I think it all comes down to who can handle it and who can handle it the best."

Said Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews: "There's no perfect way to score on him."

Chicago rallied from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Detroit Red Wings and advance to the conference finals. In the first round, the Kings rallied from a two-game deficit, dropping the first two games at St. Louis.

The Blackhawks' Patrick Kane drew a semi-parallel between the Kings and the Blues.

"It's almost like they're a better St. Louis Blues," Kane said. "They play physical, have players that can score. When they do play physical, it seems to work to their advantage."

Said Kings captain Dustin Brown: "My concern is more with the depth of their forwards. You think about the big four there with [Marian] Hossa, Toews, Kane and [Patrick] Sharp. Four guys that can all shoot the puck really well, great vision as well."

Brown had to move to the Kings' third line near the end of the San Jose series to provide more scoring balance. It appears as if he will be back with his usual linemates, Kopitar and Justin Williams, for Game 1 against Chicago. There is a chance that Jarret Stoll (concussion) will return Saturday but it is far from certain. Caution is the operating mode because of Stoll's history of concussions.

The flip side of the Kings' well-documented scoring woes is that they have not allowed more than three goals in any of their last 33 playoff games, an NHL record, according to the league's number crunchers.

Brown had a snappy rejoinder when asked about the Kings' style of play.

"We could bore you all to death," Brown said. "If we keep on winning, I could care less what people think of our game."

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