Vezina Trophy nominee Jonathan Quick quietly amassed 35 wins, a 1.95 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage in net on the West Coast, helping the Los Angeles Kings clinch the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Los Angeles' average season meant nothing as soon as the puck dropped on the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs.
The sheer dominance exhibited by the Kings this postseason starts in net with Quick. Only one more seven-game series of brilliance separates the scorching goaltender and his Los Angeles team from hoisting Lord Stanley's Cup. Quick's near-flawless play gives the Kings an edge over whichever challenger emerges from the East.
Quick and his Kings men quickly disposed of the top-seeded Vancouver Canucks in five games, the second-seeded St. Louis Blues in four games and the third-seeded Phoenix Coyotes in five games to capture the Western Conference Championship. It was the franchise's first Stanley Cup Final appearance since Wayne Gretzky wore a black and silver sweater and Barry Mel-"flow"-se managed the team's bench.
The 26-year-old goaltender posted an unbelievable 12-2 record en route to the final, leading the postseason in almost every possible statistical category for goaltenders.
If the New Jersey Devils Advance
With the Eastern Conference Championship on the line tonight, Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur is one win away from advancing to the Stanley Cup Final and a chance at his fourth career Stanley Cup.
Is it the Kings' year?
Stalwart defense and capitalization on scoring opportunities propelled the Devils within one game of the 2012 Stanley Cup Final. The same shutdown defense helped the Devils earn a playoff spot in the first place.
While New Jersey plays defense with the league's best, the Kings disposed of the league's best defensive team during the regular season, the St. Louis Blues, in a quick four-game sweep. However, the Devils boast a little more offensive ability than the Blues with players like Ilya Kovalchuk, Zach Parise and Travis Zajac.
If the Devils win tonight, securing a trip to the finals against the Kings, it's hard to imagine them slowing Los Angeles down, even with solid defense and Brodeur, who's played better and better.
While the Devils squelched another scorching team in the Philadelphia Flyers in the second round, Philadelphia suffered a huge drop-off in emotion after beating its cross-state rival in the Pittsburgh Penguins in Round 1.
The Kings differ from the Flyers in being all business. Los Angeles disposed of the three best teams in the West with seeming ease and with the utmost class.
It remains to be seen if Quick's red-hot play this postseason is able to compete with the legendary status of Martin Brodeur, but #Quick'sThePick in these playoffs.
If the New York Rangers Advances
Fellow Vezina Trophy-nominated goaltender Henrik Lundqvist backstopped the Rangers to a top seed in the Eastern Conference and nearly helped the Blueshirts win the Presidents' Trophy.
Despite the Rangers advancing to the Eastern Conference final, the team consistently showed inconsistency. The eighth-seeded Ottawa Senators and seventh-seeded Washington Capitals pushed the Rangers to a seventh game in the teams' series, and the sixth-seeded Devils currently hold a 3-2 series advantage over the Rangers.
Lundqvist served as the main source of consistency for the Rangers, falling victim to low-scoring losses where his team failed to bail him out or generate enough scoring.
The Kings defense has been more than adequate this postseason and, with shutdown defensemen like Rob Scuderi and Matt Greene, should be able to thwart the Rangers' inconsistent attack. Additionally, the Kings forwards have found a way to turn one-goal losses that plagued the team during the regular season into one-goal victories.
With Quick's dominance in the playoffs and his team's consistency, the Kings should be able to outlast the talented Rangers. Again, #Quick'sThePick.
It's hard to imagine any team slowing down the Kings and solving goaltender Jonathan Quick, who's been brilliant in these playoffs. For the first time in franchise history, the Los Angeles Kings may be crowned the kings of the NHL.