CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 28: Jonathan Quick #32 of the Los Angeles Kings spits out water during a break in the action against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center on December 28, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Kings defeated the Blackhawks 2-0. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
The Devils need to find ways to get pucks past Jonathan Quick if they hope to survive Game 4. We suggest a few ways the potential Conn Smythe winner could be broken down by looking at his play from earlier in the postseason.
Since taking the ice against the Vancouver Canucks on Wed., April 11th, Jonathan Quick has been the most lights out goalie in the NHL. He's almost certainly secured a Conn Smythe Trophy, and there's a better than even chance that he could see his name engraved on the Vezina Trophy as well.
With record quality numbers, the obvious question: How can anybody get a puck past him?
With the New Jersey Devils desperate to find an answer, it's worth breaking down Quick's game in an attempt to find a few chinks in his armor. One of the better pieces of evidence? The game where, ironically, the Kings last disposed of an opponent.
In Game 5 of the Western Conference Final, the Coyotes were able to put three goals past Quick, something that no opponent has managed before or since in the postseason.
As a goaltender who likes to play low and move aggressively around his crease, Quick tends to rely on his reflexes above everything else, which can be exploited with the right game plan, such as Taylor Pyatt's opening power play goal.
Setting up at the top of the crease, Pyatt continued to keep up some lateral movement to draw Quick's attention and forcing him to constantly reposition as he attempted to track the puck movement around his zone, eventually leaving him vulnerable to a redirection at the top of the crease.
Quick's tendency to stay low means he can also be exposed on close in on elevated rebounds. Quick has improved his rebound control considerably, but tends to extend and attempts to block or trap low, taking him out of his crouch and leaving him unable to pop up as quickly as his normal ready stance. Shots that can be flipped top shelf or given good backhand loft will have a much better chance to break through, especially if the shooter can wait for Quick to commit low.
Another area Quick has improved is over correcting his movement around the crease. Occasionally guilty of sliding himself away from the the play, Quick has still been caught on plays that move the puck quickly from side to side. Keith Yandle's late second period goal in game five, taking a pass from the low corner by Taylor Pyatt up to the side of the crease left Quick out of position for what amounted to a tap-in goal.
Finally, there is the one area that no one has seemed to crack this postseason - Quick's emotional game. Always an aggressive and sometimes excitable player, he has managed to channel his emotional play in a positive fashion, driving his play but not allowing them to run out of control.
With the Kings on the verge of their first championship, and what is expected to be a sold out crowd at the Staples Center, those emotions will be at an unimaginable level. Control will be a major factor, and if the Devils can work to get under his skin - hacking, whacking, bumping, and challenging his space - it might be their best chance to help to break his cool and put pucks into the net.