Monday, April 9, 2012

Kings-Canucks Playoff Preview Part I: Goaltending

Jonathan Quick
Jonathan Quick: Vezina Worthy

The Kings choked again!  Ryan Clowe stole the Pacific Division from us!  Jonathan Quick can’t win the big game! 

Forget all that…

On March 1st, the Kings were sitting in 10th place with a 29-23-12 record after winning only five of fourteen games in the month of February but after the acquisition of Jeff Carter; Los Angeles has gone 13-5-3.

The Canucks, winners of back-to-back Presidents’ Trophy are looking to make back-to-back Stanley Cup appearances after falling to Boston in the Finals a year ago.  Much has been made of their regular season success in recent years but Vancouver is still in search of that elusive first Stanley Cup.

This teams split four regular season games by a total of one goal.  Two games were decided by a goal and another by a shootout.  Goaltending in the series will be huge.

Both Jonathan and Quick and Roberto Luongo have had Vezina-worthy campaigns.  Quick’s numbers have been absolutely spectacular this season.  A 35-21-13 record to go along with a 1.95 GAA, .929 SV% and franchise-record 10 shutouts.  Luongo had another strong season for Vancouver with a 31-14-8 record and 2.41 GAA, .919 SV% with 5 shutouts.

In four games between the two teams this season, Quick and Luongo were equally impressive.  Their save percentages were nearly identical.  Quick allowed seven goals while recording a .941 SV% over four games while Luongo allowed eight goals and owned a .944 SV%.  The Kings actually threw more rubber Luongo’s way outshooting the Canucks 142-118. 

EDGE- EVEN.  This is an absolute tossup.  Both goaltenders are capable of stealing multiple games in the series.  There’s no doubt that if Quick struggles; he’ll be between the pipes for the following game.  His resume speaks for itself this season.  For Vancouver, 31 wins just isn’t enough to avoid a goaltending controversy going into the postseason especially when backup Cory Schneider has 20 wins, a 1.96 GAA and .937 SV% with 3 shutouts.  If Luongo falters early expect Alain Vigneault to turn to his 26-year old backup and never look back.

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