Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Quick and Kings One Win Away from Final Again

Former NCAA goaltender Jonathan Quick (UMass) and his Los Angeles Kings are just one win away from a second trip to the Stanley Cup Final in three years.

The Kings dominated the defending NHL champion Chicago Blackhawks on Monday night at the Staples Center in a 5-2 triumph, with Quick making 22 saves in Game 4 of the Western Conference final. Quick has gone 11-4 in his last 15 playoff outings following an 0-3 start against the San Jose Sharks in the opening round, and has stopped 86 of 96 shots in four outings so far against Chicago.

Los Angeles came back to win the San Jose series in seven games, and then outlasted the Anaheim Ducks in seven games in the second round after falling behind, three games to two. The Kings have also rebounded with three straight wins versus the Blackhawks after losing the opener of their Western Conference final series, 3-1, last week in Chicago.

Two years ago, when the Kings won their first NHL championship, they took a 3-0 lead in each of their four series. They ousted the Vancouver Canucks, St. Louis Blues, Phoenix Coyotes and New Jersey Devils in a total of 20 games, going 16-4 overall that spring, with Quick earning the Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They fell to Chicago in five games last year in the conference final.

Game 5 between the Kings and Hawks this series will be Wednesday night at the United Center in Chicago (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN). The Blackhawks, who got an assist from captain Jonathan Toews (North Dakota) in Monday's loss, rebounded from a 3-1 deficit against the Detroit Red Wings last year with three straight wins in the conference semifinal before going on to top the Kings and then the Boston Bruins to claim their second Cup in four seasons. 

The Chicago power play, however, is functioning at just over 17 percent in the playoffs this spring, according to NHL.com, and is just 2-for-13 so far against the Kings, including an 0-for-7 statistic in the last two games. The Kings, meanwhile, have been scoring at almost a 27 percent clip with the man advantage in the postseason, including a 2-for-3 power-play performance last night.

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