June 7, 2012
Quick for Conn? Not so fastDevils say Kings D deserves credit
By TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency
NEWARK - Regarding the talk of fitting Jonathan Quick for the Conn Smythe Trophy: Not so fast.
The New Jersey Devils have scored just four goals on the Los Angeles Kings goaltender through four games of the Stanley Cup final (not including Ilya Kovalchuk’s empty-netter in Game 4), but Devils captain Zach Parise didn’t agree with the premise that his club broke down a mental barrier with two goals against Quick Wednesday night.
For Parise, there has been more to the story than Quick, whose play has been lauded as the Kings have built a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series, with Game 5 Saturday night at the Prudential Center.
“I don’t know if it was so much him or just the fact that we were missing great opportunities, missing the net, not executing 5-on-3s,” Parise said Thursday afternoon after the Devils’ cross-continent flight touched down in New Jersey.
“Against (Henrik) Lundqvist (of the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference final), for example, we were throwing 35, 45 shots at him and could not get anything by him. Quick is getting a lot of the credit and he deserves it, but their D should get a lot of the credit in how good of a job they have been doing in limiting our opportunities.
“It’s nice for us to score goals and Quick has been playing very well, but it was not so much a ‘What can we do to beat this guy’ type of attitude.”
Parise certainly is on to something when he speaks in glowing terms about the Kings’ defencemen. Led by Drew Doughty, the group of six has played in all 18 of the Kings’ playoff games, an eye-opening run that, remarkably, has not seen one Los Angeles blueliner get injured to the extent that he has to miss a game. That durability has helped in the Kings’ consistency as a whole.
As sharp as the L.A. defence corps has been -- and when there has been the odd breakdown, Quick, who plays low to the ice, has almost always made the save –- the Devils needed just that little glimmer to restore confidence that might have been listing until Adam Henrique snapped a shot past Quick late in the third period of Game 4.
While it would be disrespectful to say the Kings have coasted to a 15-3 record in the playoffs –- they’ve had to work hard to get to within one victory of their first Cup in franchise history –- the Devils really have gone about their business with a greater strain of difficulty.
But where adversity has tried to stare the Devils down in the past couple of months, they’ve persevered.
“Look back on some of our other series -– Florida, being down in Games 6 and 7 and having to win,” Devils forward Travis Zajac said. “Being down in Philly first game, Rangers first game, we have had some good composure during the playoffs and have not let the pressure get to us. I think our confidence is definitely there.”
The Kings, of course, have put together a post-season road streak that will be remembered for years, going 10-0 thus far. That won’t ensure an automatic win Saturday, but anyone who thinks the visitors will be intimidated hasn’t been paying much attention.
Yet the Kings know the Devils raised themselves off the mat in Game 4.
“The teams you play against are there for a reason,” Kings forward Justin Williams said. “It’s not supposed to be a sweep all the time. That’s when their character comes out, when their backs are against the wall.”
Indeed, the Devils got to Quick, and they’re not dead.
“We know every time we can win a game and chip away, the goal gets a little closer,” Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. “The fact we finally got that one, we have been a team on the playoff trail that has responded to one with another one. We have a pulse. If we win on Saturday night, this series really takes a turn.”