When the upstart Los Angeles Kings rose from the Western Conference's eighth seed to win the Stanley Cup in 2012, the team's most important player was Jonathan Quick.
Quick allowed just 29 goals in 20 games in 2012, for a 1.41 goals-against average.
This year, with one round to go, Quick has played just one less minute than he did in the entire 2012 Cup run but has allowed more than twice as many goals. With 59 goals-against on 628 shots, Quick's average is a lofty 2.86 headed into the Stanley Cup Final.
The Kings wouldn't be at the dance if Quick wasn't doing the job in elimination games, but his play trended in the wrong direction in the Chicago series, where he allowed 23 goals in seven games.
Los Angeles coach Darryl Sutter has talked in the past about how hockey is a "game to three"—in other words, the first team to score three goals will probably win. At Media Day on Tuesday, he told reporters that he's holding true to that rule of thumb (from NHL.com):
When you go back to that number; if you give up more than two goals a game, you're looking for trouble all the time. It's a tough number to reach. If you look at the regular season, we finished with the best goals-against in the League, just over two [per game], and that's a mark that's really hard to hit. That's always a good goal for your team.
Quick let just seven pucks get past him in the entire 2012 Stanley Cup Final against the New Jersey Devils. If he can zone in on a similar performance against the Rangers, the silver chalice will return to Tinseltown once again this spring.