NHL Playoffs 2012: Five Most Valuable L.A. Kings Not Named Jonathan Quick
The leader among eligible goaltenders in goals-against average (1.46) and save percentage (.948), Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick has been quintessentially consistent in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
He has been consistently stingy with two shutouts, four one-goal outings, six two-goal tabs and only a solitary three-goal night. He has yet to log a single-game save percentage lower than .900 and has finished at .923 or better in that slot in 10 out of 13 games.
Points taken. Quick deserves every ounce of credit he has absorbed in the process of pushing the eighth-seeded Kings to within one win of a spot in the Stanley Cup final.
If everything continues to trend as it has since April 11, Quick ought to remain the front-running candidate for the Conn Smythe Trophy if (and only if) the Kings corral the Cup.
But naturally, none of that is settled yet. Assuming Los Angeles utilizes one of its next three opportunities to polish off the Phoenix Coyotes, Quick will realistically remain in the Smythe pool. Odds are he will not get to 16 playoff wins in a fashion differing from how he reached 11.
Still, the five remaining requisite wins leave room for a handful of skaters to elevate their own postseason transcript. At least one other King deserves arguably equal Conn Smythe consideration as it is, and another four have enough to build upon after 13 games.
5. Trevor Lewis
Although the Kings defaulted on their first of two attempts to close out the Canucks in the first round, that was the night Trevor Lewis broke out as one of their more physical forwards. After collecting only two hits over the first three playoff games, he has landed multiple checks in each game since.
Granted, Lewis’ point production was momentarily shallow as well. But he now has four assists in the conference finals, in which the Kings are 3-0 when he appears on the scoresheet.
4. Drew Doughty
The playoff plus/minus leader among Kings defensemen and team’s ice-time leader overall and on the power play, Drew Doughty has appreciably balanced the four hockey humors of skill, toughness, finesse and discipline.
He has translated that formula to seven assists, eight points, 28 hits, 17 blocked shots and only eight penalty minutes.
3. Anze Kopitar
Only one King (more on him to come) has had a longer tenure with the franchise than Anze Kopitar. Fittingly enough, the sixth-year Slovenian ambassador has embraced and prolonged his first major postseason run with appreciably consistent productivity.
Sunday’s shutout loss was only Kopitar’s third pointless performance out of 13 outings. He immediately preceded that with a six-game scoring streak highlighted by four goals, six helpers and four multipoint efforts.
Each of L.A.’s playoff opponents has managed to keep him off only one scoresheet in their respective series.
2. Willie Mitchell
If not for this gritty blueliner, odds are Quick’s workload would be far more arduous. Of the 179 shots Los Angeles skaters have blocked in this postseason, Mitchell has been credited with 40 of them, at least twice the amount of any of his peers.
Mitchell also leads the team in shorthanded ice time with a nightly average of 3:43. Other than Quick, he and the physical Matt Greene are arguably the prime reason Los Angeles leads all playoff teams with a 92.2-percent success rate on the penalty kill.
1. Dustin Brown
The captain has a team-best seven goals, a team-best 15 points, a team-best 62 hits, a team-best three game-winning goals and four―I repeat, four―shorthanded points in the first 13 playoff games.
Brown is tied with Kopitar for a team-best plus-12 rating, having only been on the ice for four of the 19 goals Quick has allowed, including none of the five the Coyotes have scored.
In this particular round, Brown should be making NHL statisticians consider adding an “opposing penalties drawn” column to each team’s spread. He drew two apiece in games two and three, including one on frustrated Phoenix goaltender Mike Smith and Martin Hanzal’s suspended boarding infraction in game two.