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Posts Tagged ‘Jonathan Quick’

Stanley Cup Playoffs Preview: #1 Chicago Blackhawks vs. #5 Los Angeles Kings

In Hockey on June 1, 2013 at 11:38 am

All right, kids. I’m really hung over and need to hit the road soon. So this won’t take long.

The Western Conference final comes down to the two best teams in the conference. The Presidents’ Trophy winners and the defending champs get their hands on each other for what should be an awesome series.

Chicago nearly pulled off one of the biggest choke jobs in recent memory, but rallied from a 3-1 deficit to beat Detroit in a thrilling game seven that was nearly taken away from them. The Hawks are at their best when they roll four lines and when Corey Crawford isn’t letting soft goals past him. My biggest concern for Chicago remains the absence of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane from the score sheet. Yes, the two superstars were frustrated by Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk. Trouble is the matchup this time around doesn’t get any easier with Anze Kopitar and Mike Richards waiting. Toews and Kane are going to need to start finding the net or the Hawks are going to be in serious trouble.

L.A. is coming off a game seven win of their own, and they appear to be hitting their stride at the right time. At times against the Sharks, the Kings looked just like the scary Kings that rolled over everyone one year ago. Of course, that means that Jonathan Quick is pissing shooter everywhere off again with his play in net and his antics. Say what you will about the guy, but one stat stands out for me in Quick’s current run of disgusting play. Last year in the playoffs, Quick’s save percentage at even strength was .946. This year? An eye-popping .960. Freaking .960!!! That’s ridiculous! So if Jimmy Howard gave Chicago shooters fits last round, Quick is going to drive them mental this round.

Chicago Will Win If…
All four lines continue to produce. What the Blackhawks possess that San Jose did not is scoring coming from the bottom six forwards. That’s critical to a team’s success when Toews and Kane are having trouble hitting the twine.

Los Angeles Will Win If…
They win the physical game. We saw in the last round from Detroit that if you punish the Hawks, they tend to lose focus and get off of their game. Every single member of the Kings contributes by throwing their body around, and they’ll look to turn the Hawks black and blue.

LA pushes the Hawks around in the physical game and Jon Quick keeps the dream alive for the defending champs. I would elaborate a little more, but this LA team is a nightmare for anyone to play right now. Also, I need a Gatorade. Kings in 6.

I am Ryan Thomas, and I’m never drinking again. Follow me on Twitter @rthomas_22, because I said so damn it.


Stanley Cup Playoffs Preview: #5 Los Angeles Kings vs. #6 San Jose Sharks

In Hockey on May 14, 2013 at 6:55 pm
Ah memories...

Ah memories…

UGHHH, I barely had enough time to recover from watching the Leafs crap all over themselves before I needed to get my series preview out for the Sharks and Kings. DAMN YOU, NHL SCHEDULERS.

OK now I’m done. Time to preview what might be the most stressful series I will ever watch. If you’ll excuse me, I need to take off my black and teal tinted glasses, wipe the remains of the Vancouver Canucks off my shoes and throw in a fat dip before I dive in.

Much better.

The last time these two clubs met in the playoffs in 2011, I was given wonderful memories that I will be able to cherish for a long time, smacking a pesky young Kings team that appeared to be two year away from being a major contender. Well I was right about the contender part, but a year off. Damn it all…

The defending champions did the entire hockey world a favor in ridding us all of the St. Louis Blues in the first round, even if their goalie made a couple of boneheaded plays to put the Kings down 0-2. The Kings aren’t flashy. They’re quick, skilled, but will beat teams down with their physicality. And the scary thing is, they’re playing as well as they did during last year’s playoff run.

LA is the only team left in the West that can match the Sharks’ depth down the middle with Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards and Jarret Stoll going against Joe Thornton, Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski. Defensively, the Kings should have the edge with Drew Doughty playing out of his mind once again and the rest of the D following suit. And the one spot where the Sharks should have had the edge, in goal, suddenly becomes a wash after Jonathan Quick found his game against the Blues. Well, at least he looks like he found his game because the Blues were horrendous offensively.

I’ve had a week to sit back and smile after watching the Sharks rid the Stanley Cup Playoffs of the Canucks. San Jose was better in every facet of the game en route to the first sweep in franchise history. But could the time off have spawned some rust on the Sharks express? It could have, but I have to think the Sharks used that time productively and they should be all over the Kings to open the game. My biggest worry for the Sharks is how they’ll respond to the Kings’ physical play. It’s no secret that the Canucks are soft, and outside of Raffi Torres and Brent Burns, the Sharks don’t exactly have a bunch of guys that can bang bodies.

With as much talk about how this is now Couture and Pavelski’s team, the old guard is still going to need to be very good for the Sharks to win. Yes, the Sharks’ power play dominated in round one. But the Kings aren’t sieves on the penalty kill the same way the Canucks were. Everyone is going to need to contribute offensively for the Sharks, as LA boasts four lines that can pitch in.

Oh, and Antti Niemi needs to be better this time around against the Kings after giving up 19 goals in that six-game series back in 2011. He’s a much better goalie now but he has to continue to keep his team in games like he did all year. This time, Nemo is going to need to be better than a former Conn Smythe winner. And damn it, he better be.

Los Angeles Will Win If…
Their bottom six forwards contribute each game. The top-six forwards are a wash in my opinion, but LA got contributions up and down the lineup en route to the Cup last year. In the first round, that was no exception. LA has guys that are not only bears to play against (or in Dustin Penner’s case, actual wild life), but they create chances with their forecheck. San Jose’s defense needs to be ready for that pressure and keep the puck away from the LA grinders.

San Jose Will Win If..
Antti Niemi wins the goaltending duel. Only two starting goalies left won rings as starters, and they’re matched up against each other in this series. While Quick was the biggest reason for LA winning last year, Niemi kept things steady for Chicago when they won the Cup in 2010. He needs to keep up his Vezina-worthy play in this series to down a red-hot team in the Kings

Blood will be lost, tears will be shed and my liver will take an absolute beating. I’m sure at some point, you’ll find me in my apartment curled up in the fetal position after watching these games. I don’t know if I can handle another series like the Red Wings series in 2011, but I don’t have a choice.

This series is going to be awesome, but I give the edge to the only team left that can beat the Blackhawks. Kings in 7.

Time to start drinking…

I am Ryan Thomas, and I’m a bad fan for not picking my team. Follow me on Twitter @rthomas_22 to join in with the misery I’m sure this series will bring me.

Stanley Cup Playoffs Preview: #4 St. Louis Blues vs. #5 Los Angeles Kings

In Hockey on April 29, 2013 at 11:59 pm

Get ready for a series in which both teams could seriously hurt each other (fingers crossed!).

The St. Louis Blues didn’t look like the same team that made things miserable for opponents for much of the year. But over the last few weeks, the Blues appear to have rounded into form. Thanks to the Blackhawks icing their AHL team in the regular season finals, cheating me out of a Sharks-Kings matchup, St. Louis will open at home for the second straight year.

The first thing that stands out for the Blues is their defense, which might be the deepest out of all the teams in the playoffs. Adding Jay Bouwmeester and Jordan Leopold has shored things up on the back end and made Brian Elliott look like an all-star again. Speaking of Elliott, he is the unquestioned top goalie going into the playoffs this year, and he’s going to have the microscope on him given how bad the Kings made him look last year.

On offense, the Blues are more dangerous than you might think. As much attention as their defense and Ken Hitchcock’s boring system get the credit, the forwards are deep and have plenty of skill. With Chris Stewart playing for a new deal and a healthy Andy McDonald, this team has a legitimate chance to make a run to the conference finals for the first time since 2001.

Oh hey, the Kings open the playoffs as the underdog again. Of course, that doesn’t bother them whatsoever. It’s not far-fetched for the Kings to steam-roll through the playoffs again. But in order for that to happen, Jonathan Quick needs to figure a few things out. He didn’t play during the most pointless lockout in sports history and had back surgery before the lockout came to an end, making him look pedestrian at times. But he’s been here before, and I have to think Quick will be ready to go.

Just like the Blues, the Kings are extremely deep at forward and on the blue line. I like the skill of the Kings more than the skill of the Blues in this series. Anze Kopitar is the most talented player in the series, and he’s flanked by playoff warriors Dustin Brown, Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. If the Kings can swarm the Blues with all four lines like they did last year, they’ll be smiling in the handshake line once again this year.

Plus, if we can see this again, that would be awesome. That’s what you get when you fight in your weight class, Roman Polak.

St. Louis will win if:They learned their lesson from one year ago. Last year’s series between these two teams wasn’t even close, and the Blues need to be as physical as they have been all year to unseat the defending champs. They got killed in that area last season and Brian Elliott was exposed as a mediocre goaltender. St. Louis needs to put that in their rear-view mirror to have any success this year.

Los Angeles will win if:
They can handle the pressure of being the hunted. This is basically the same team that won the Cup last year. But they know this year, the target is on their back and their chest. Teams are going to throw everything they have at the Kings, and it’s going to start with a team that can match their physicality.

Trainers, get your ice packs ready. These two teams are going to throw everything they have at each other, and a Cup favorite is going to be done after the first round. I’m actually very excited about this series because it’s going to be the closest thing to legalized assault we will see in the first round. Hitchcock and Blues’ captain David Backes will not allow his team to get run over like they did last year. In the end, I like the guy between the pipes for the Kings to be the difference maker.

Plus, I look forward to the humor coming from @theroyalhalf on Twitter. If you hate the Kings, you’re REALLY going to hate that guy.

Without question, this has been the hardest series for me to make my mind up on. If there was any way both teams could lose this series, I’d be cool with that. But someone has to win. Kings in 7.

I am Ryan Thomas, and I approve this post. Follow me on Twitter @rthomas_22 so you can harass me for an opinion piece. Also, so you can tell me why it’s wrong to dislike Roman Polak. Keep in mind, I will ignore anything you try to tell me.