Kings go from best to worst in three playoff games

The Kings finished with the NHL’s best defense during the regular season. Their goaltenders, Jonathan Quick and Martin Jones (with an assist from the now traded Ben Scrivens) won the William M. Jennings Trophy after giving up a league-low 174 goals. After three playoff games, the Kings have the league’s worst defense, with Quick posting a 5.78 goals-against average going into Game 4 on Thursday. Quick’s save percentage is an atrocious .852. It was .915 in the regular season.

 

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Kings goalie Jonathan Quick in no mood to rehash what’s gone wrong in series

The Kings had too many defensive mistakes and errors of judgment to blame their 2-0 series deficit to the San Jose Sharks only on goaltender Jonathan Quick. The Sharks scored 13 goals on 73 shots in two games, so there’s plenty of blame to go around. Here’s a sampling of what Quick told reporters Monday:

Question: What did you say to your team?

Quick: “Nothing different than I say every other game.”

Question: This is a team you handled well last year, what are they doing different?

Quick: “Scoring goals.”

Question: How much will being at home help you?

 Quick: “I don’t know. We’ll see. It shouldn’t matter where you play.”

Question: Is their speed an issue for your team?

Quick: “I don’t think that’s the issue. I think there’s some issues on our end we need to clean up before we start saying what they’re doing.”

Question: What are the issues?

Quick: “There’s a lot of things. I got things to do this afternoon. I don’t want to get into all of them.”

 

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Scouting report: Kings versus Sharks

Third-place Kings vs. second-place Sharks

First round

Schedule TBA

Kings strengths: Jonathan Quick might very well be the best goalie in the NHL. The Kings’ ability to stick to Darryl Sutter’s defensive-minded script is another plus. Their experience in winning the Stanley Cup in 2012 and advancing to the Western Conference finals last season is invaluable.

Sharks strengths: Joe Pavelski is in the midst of a career-best season. Logan Couture and Joe Thornton give the Sharks a healthy dash of skill and creativity and a reason to fear their offensive attack. Their defense corps is big and mobile and can be dangerous at any given moment.

Kings weaknesses: They can be addicted to a stogy brand of hockey that relies all too often on cycling the puck and playing on the perimeter. They also tend to rely too much on Quick, who has come up big for them so often in big games that it’s a stunner when he’s not at his best.

Sharks weaknesses: Thornton is a finesse player locked inside a power forward’s body. It’s not easy to take him out of his game, but he’s been known to disappear at the worst possible moments for the Sharks. Antti Niemi’s play in goal has been suspect and it’s unclear if he’ll be their starter.

X-factor: The Sharks will have home-ice advantage in the best-of-7 series. The Kings had it when the teams met in the second round of the playoffs last season. The Kings won in seven games, when every game was won by the home team. A repeat would favor the Sharks in Game 7 this time.

King to watch: Anze Kopitar has been superb in all facets of the game and some local scribes have mentioned him as a top pick for the Selke Trophy as the NHL’s best two-way forward. The arrival of Marian Gaborik in a trade March 5 has only made Kopitar more dangerous offensively.

Shark to watch: Thornton is a fascinating figure, but Pavelski is a real difference-maker this season. Pavelski is a threat every time he steps on the ice and you can bet the Kings will shadow him on every shift. If the series is as tight as expected, he could swing things in the Sharks’ favor.

The pick: Kings will win in seven games.

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Matt Moulson gets bragging rights on brother-in-law Jonathan Quick (Kinda)

The Minnesota Wild’s Matt Moulson and the Kings’ Jonathan Quick are married to sisters, so things might get a little interesting around the holidays when the subject of Monday’s game comes up. Moulson scored the tying goal for the Wild, who went on to defeat Quick and the Kings 3-2, ending their six-game winning streak.

Bragging rights? Yeah, well, maybe not so much, according to Moulson.

“It’s always good to score a goal,” said Moulson, a former teammate of Quick’s with the Kings. “He’s stopped me a lot more than I have scored on him and he also has a couple of trophies that I don’t have, so I don’t think I can do too much bragging.”

Moulson referred to the Stanley Cup and the Conn Smythe Trophy that Quick won with the Kings in 2011-12.

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Jonathan Quick ties Rogie Vachon and Darryl Sutter ties Toe Blake

The Kings made a little history for goaltender Jonathan Quick and coach Darryl Sutter with a 2-1 shootout victory Thursday night over the Washington Capitals. Quick earned his 171st victory, tying Rogie Vachon’s franchise record, and Sutter won his 500th game as an NHL coach, matching Toe Blake for 17th on the NHL list.

“To be honest, I did not know I was that close until a couple of games ago and somebody brought it up,” Quick said. “It’s special and, obviously, wins are a team effort, so I think that makes it a little more special because it’s 20 guys contributing toward the win. Obviously, if it was not for the shootout, I would be another season behind (Vachon). He didn’t have the luxury of the shootout, so in my mind, I’m still chasing him.”

Said Sutter when asked what the milestone meant to him: “A lot. I’ve been around a long time. Kind of odd in the shootout, though.”

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Goaltender Jonathan Quick shoulders blame for the Kings’ latest defeat

The Kings coughed up a lead in the third period for the first time this season. They led the Phoenix Coyotes 3-2 going into the third period Monday night at Staples Center, but gave up two goals en route to a 4-3 loss. Goaltender Jonathan Quick wasn’t sharp at the start or the finish and blamed himself for the defeat.

“I thought they were desperate the whole game,” Quick said. “That’s the time of year it is. Everybody’s playing desperate. I thought we played well enough. I don’t think I played well enough. You give up four goals, you’re going to lose games. I’ve got to be better.”

Asked what he viewed as the game’s turning point, Quick said, “Four goals against.”

Kings coach Darryl Sutter defended Quick, who made 23 saves.

“Quite honest, the score should have been quite higher both ways, if you look at mistakes that were made and the big saves the goalies had to make,” Sutter said, referring to Quick and Mike Smith of the Coyotes.

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Brown, Quick skip Kings’ practice with illnesses and might not play vs. Ducks

Kings captain Dustin Brown and goaltender Jonathan Quick sat out of practice Friday and their status for Saturday’s game against the Ducks was uncertain. Brown played only a little more than 10 minutes during the Kings’ loss Thursday to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Quick played his customary standout game, stopping 26 shots in a 3-2 loss. Coach Darryl Sutter was unsure whether Brown or Quick could play against the Ducks. Martin Jones would start in Quick’s place if needed.

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A very Quick note about an upcoming Kings goaltending record

There were times over the years that it seemed as if Rogie Vachon’s franchise record of 171 victories by a goaltender would never be threatened by another King. The names and faces came and went and Vachon’s mark, set over 389 games between 1971 and ’78, stood the text of time. But now Jonathan Quick is set to tie the mark once thought to be unreachable. Quick can match Vachon with a victory Thursday over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Quick has won 170 games in 323 games, benefiting from far better teams than the ones that played in front of Vachon. Quick also has won a Stanley Cup championship with the Kings in 2012, and the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the ’12 playoffs. Vachon’s teams never came close to the Stanley Cup Final, but it wasn’t for any shortcomings on his part.

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Goaltender Jonathan Quick delivers a state of the Kings speech

Jonathan Quick made 24 saves in the Kings’ 3-1 victory Saturday afternoon over the Carolina Hurricanes at Staples Center, his second start since returning from his stint with Team USA in Sochi, Russia. Then he offered his views on the team’s play in three games since ending the Olympic break.

“We’ve played well,” Quick said of the Kings’ three-game winning streak since the end of the break. “We played a really good road game against Calgary. I know we would have liked to have played better against Colorado, but we found a way to get a win. We played a good game (against Carolina). We have only 20 games or so left (actually, there are exactly 20 regular-season games remaining for the Kings). It’s very tight. Every game is important right now.

“We’ve got to bring our best every night.”

Next for the Kings: the Montreal Canadiens on Monday at Staples Center.

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Sochi Olympics musings (semifinals)

They dropped the puck on the semifinal game between the United States and Canada on Friday in Sochi, Russia, and a Kings game broke out. Jonathan Quick was superb in goal, the U.S. power play was disorganized and ineffective, the puck stayed mostly on the perimeter and the Americans failed to generate the sustained pressure needed to score enough goals to defeat Canada. The Canadians were the aggressors and if not for Quick, it might have been a far worse result than 1-0.

In the end, Jonathan Toews’ line for Canada neutralized Phil Kessel’s line for the U.S. and David Backes’ U.S. line muzzled Sidney Crosby’s line for Canada. The difference was the depth of the Canadians, with an energetic line of Jamie Benn, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry running amok. Benn scored the only goal of the game and his line did what the Americans could not: generate pressure.

All too often, the Americans got one quality shot away, only to see Carey Price make the save and one of his Canadian teammates move the puck out of danger and into the U.S. zone. Canada’s best defense was a strong offensive game, hanging onto the puck and creating scoring chances through its possession play. The Americans failed to do any of that, which is why they looked exactly like the Kings during Saturday’s semifinal.

Canada meets Sweden in the gold-medal game Sunday.

The U.S. faces Finland for the bronze Saturday.

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