Is Jonathan Quick to Blame for Los Angeles Kings' Game 5 Loss?

Franklin Steele@FranklinSteeleAnalyst IIMay 29, 2014

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Twenty minutes—That's all that stood between the Los Angeles Kings and their second trip to the Stanley Cup Final in three seasons.

After spotting the Chicago Blackhawks a two-goal lead early in the first period, Los Angeles clawed back into the contest and held a 4-3 advantage heading into the third and final frame.

That should have been enough for a Kings team that was 8-0 in these playoffs when leading after 40 minutes of action. That should have been enough against a Blackhawks team that hadn't won in these playoffs when trailing after 40.

It wasn't enough though, and that blame falls squarely on Jonathan Quick's shoulders. The 2012 Conn Smythe winner came up with a handful of dazzling saves as the Kings were gunning for a come-from-behind win through the first two periods, but he failed to make the stops when they mattered most.

Ben Smith's goal 77 seconds into the third period breathed life, hope and belief into the 'Hawks, and it's a goal that Quick should have never allowed to happen. When you have a team like the Blackhawks on the ropes, rebounds can't be kicked out directly to streaking forwards when the initial shot itself didn't have much velocity.

Some will contend that Smith's tally wasn't on Quick at all. Instead, it was a case of Jarret Stoll losing a race to a loose puck. That's fair, but the puck should have never been loose in the first place. It'd be easy to forgive the Olympian netminder for one stinker, but he was fighting the puck all night and gave up a few softies that prevented the Kings from advancing.

The Smith goal was similar to Johnny Oduya's strike in the first period in that it came off of a play that didn't initially appear dangerous.

Patrick Kane has a rocket and shouldn't have been allowed too much time and space in the offensive zone, but Quick shouldn't have popped the rebound out into traffic either. While the goalie might seem like an easy target for a losing team, there's no denying that No. 32 wasn't at his best in Game 5. He finished the contest with an unimpressive .889 save percentage, stopping 40 of 45 shots.

Corey Crawford was only marginally better, but the Kings don't have the offensive horses to keep up with the 'Hawks when Quick caves in for five goals in one night.

Especially when three of those goals come off of rebounds. Brandon Saad's first-period tally also came off of a puck that Quick originally stopped. Willie Mitchell gave the biscuit away in the corner, and it's tough to win games when defenders are coughing up pucks within a few feet of the net, but Quick clearly recognized that the play was developing because he made the initial save.

If you don't think that Quick had a bad game and was responsible for the loss, consider this: Michal Handzus beat him with a backhander in overtime. This isn't Kane or Jonathan Toews we're talking about. This is Handzus, he who skates as if he has bricks tied around his ankles. He's Mike Richards' guy on the goal, but Quick made $7 million this season to stop Handzus on a partial breakaway.

If you have to pick one Blackhawks forward to take that shot, it's Handzus. Quick just didn't have the wherewithal to make the save.

The Kings were uncharacteristically sloppy in Game 5. They played poorly in the neutral zone and turned the puck over numerous times, but so did the Blackhawks. Chicago was credited with 14 giveaways while L.A. tallied six.

Crawford came up with the big saves for the Blackhawks and Quick was below average in Game 5, and that's why there will be a Game 6. Quick made a handful of strong saves in the second period, but you don't put away defending champions with big saves in the second frame.

The Kings had a chance to finish the 'Hawks off, and they failed to do so because of five goals that Quick would really like to have back. No goalie wants to see their red light flick on, but he wasn't beaten on nasty one-time shots or beautiful give-and-go plays.

He allowed three goals on rebounds and one to Handzus in overtime after badly over-committing. Quick now has sub-.900 save percentages in three of his last five games, and, if the Blackhawks manage to steal this series away, just think back to Los Angeles' 4-3 lead heading into the third period of Game 5 and how Quick gave it away.


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