Trailing in a playoff series is unfamiliar territory for Jonathan Quick and the Los Angeles Kings. It’s a problem they never faced last year en route to their first Stanley Cup championship.
The Kings are down two games to none to the St. Louis Blues and Quick is facing heavy criticism for the game-winning goals he allowed.
Goaltenders are usually given a little too much credit when a team is successful. And when a team struggles, they often unfairly receive the bulk of the blame.
That is precisely what’s occurring here.
Are there a couple of goals that Quick should have stopped? Sure, and he’d be the first to tell you just as much. In fact, Quick took responsibility for his mistakes, according to R.B. Fallstrom (via the National Post).
"I've got to stop that. I've got to stop that. It’s my fault. Two games in a row. I've got to be better."
Quick can be better. He proved that last year when he dominated throughout the playoffs, earning the Conn Smythe Trophy. That said, when you’re down 0-2 in a series and your goaltender has a save percentage of .940 and a GAA of 1.82, you've got bigger problems.
For the Kings, the most significant problem is offense, or lack thereof.
The Kings only scored one goal in each of their first two games, both of which were on the power play. They've had problems getting pucks to the net, recording just 19 shots in regulation in Game 1. In Game 2, they managed to put 29 pucks on net. However, with the game tied at one in the third, the Kings were unable to generate good chances.
Yes, the Blues are a strong defensive team with talented goaltenders, but the Kings had major success against them offensively prior to this series.
Los Angeles went 3-0 against St. Louis this season, outscoring them 14-7 in the process. And, of course, they swept the Blues in last year’s playoffs. The Kings outscored them 15-6, never notching less than three goals in a game and never allowing more than two.
In this series, they haven’t been as good in transition or been able to generate the same quality scoring opportunities they have in previous meetings with the Blues.
There is no excuse for the Kings' lack of production. They are healthy up front, with a lineup that includes one of the league’s leading goal scorers in Jeff Carter, an All-Star in Anze Kopitar, along with Mike Richards and Dustin Brown. Not to mention defensemen Drew Doughty and Slava Voynov, both of whom boast substantial offensive talent.
With that said, you have to expect the Kings will come out flying in front of their home crowd at Staples Center on Saturday. And there will likely be a little better, if not error-free, showing from Quick, who seems to be at his best following a frustrating a game or two.
Regardless, it’s up to the Kings to score and score often; otherwise, they may go down 3-0. A position they were on the better side of in all four of their series last year.