Jonathan Quick has gone from the Los Angeles Kings’ greatest strength to an exposed weakness.
Although the San Jose Sharks victimized more than just the Kings netminder in a 7-2 Game 2 victory Sunday night, using a heavy forecheck and their impressive team speed to take advantage of a flat-footed Kings squad, Quick went from their best player in the first period to their worst in the second and third.
Looking ready to avenge an embarrassing 6-3 loss in the opening game—in which he was mercifully pulled after two periods after allowing five goals on 28 shots in his 40 minutes—Quick appeared dialed in for the first 20. He was all over the crease, stopping all 15 shots he faced to help the Kings jump out to a 2-0 lead.
The wheels fell off in the second. They were on fire and releasing toxic gases in the third.
Quick should have been on the bench long before the crowd at the SAP Center in San Jose started the drawn-out “Joooooo-na-thaaaaaaaan” chants.
Even Mario Tremblay would have pulled Jon Quick by now.— The Royal Half (@theroyalhalf) April 21, 2014
He typically covers a lot of ice, but not much was protected when it came to the high corners Sunday, and the Sharks sure picked up on that.
Raffi Torres snapped a shot high on the stick side to tie things up midway through the second period.
Justin Braun sailed one in from the point late in the period to take the lead, with Quick completely frozen and traffic in front. The location? High, stick side.
Patrick Marleau. Perfect shot. High. Stick side. Sharks up 4-2.
Logan Couture…well, you get the picture.
Twelve goals in two games against the 2012 Conn Smythe Trophy winner?
Who would have believed it? Not even the Sharks’ Joe Thornton could find an answer to that while talking to the CBC’s Scott Oake after the game: “To get five and seven,” he said. “It’s mind-boggling right now.”
Reactionary folk might even be wondering if the Kings should start rookie backup Martin Jones instead of Quick going forward.
That’s crazy talk.
Quick did not look good, but he’s had save percentages of .934 and .946 in last year’s playoffs and his MVP postseason the previous year, respectively. You have to go with what brought you to the playoffs in the first place and hope to get everybody clicking when the series returns to Los Angeles and the home-ice advantage swings in the Kings’ favor.
It worked last spring when the Kings fell behind a pair of games to the St. Louis Blues and then ripped off four straight to beat them in six.
It could happen again against the Sharks.
OK, maybe not against the Sharks.
One of the biggest question marks heading into the series was whether the Men in Teal would be able to match the Kings’ physical play. Thanks to Torres and Mike Brown, they not only held their own in that department, they also got offensive contributions from their grinders.
Both Brown and Torres beat Quick, along with five other scorers, but they got by a bunch of defenders in front of Quick first.
Quick allowed 29 goals in 20 games during 2012 Cup run. Has allowed 12 goals in just under five periods so far. Hardly just him though...— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) April 21, 2014
His teammates have been completely overrun by Sharks' speed/forecheck. Can't put this all on Quick.— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) April 21, 2014
Still, you got the feeling maybe some of those defenders were wondering what was up with Quick’s performance when Jarret Stoll’s interview with Oake during the CBC broadcast’s second intermission seemed to toss the netminder under the bus, so to speak.
“I think we did a better job in the second of not giving up some Grade-A chances,” said the Kings center. “It’s just the chances they got, the shots they got from the wall, from the outside, got in—found a hole, found a way to get in.”
The holes were pretty gaping. Maybe Quick had an off night. Another off night.
The Kings can’t afford to see him have another.