The outcome of the entire Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers series hinges on goaltending. Two playoff juggernauts, Jonathan Quick and Henrik Lundqvist, will be at both ends of the ice. Both goaltenders have the ability to completely turn the series in their team’s favor.
Quick already has the reputation as a series-stealing goaltender, but he has looked average when compared to the standards set in previous playoff seasons. Henrik Lundqvist is just four wins from finally winning a Stanley Cup and solidifying his position among the NHL’s greatest goaltenders of all time. The only thing keeping Lundqvist out of being included among the likes of Brodeur and Roy is that elusive Stanley Cup ring.
In 21 games played, Jonathan Quick is 12-9, with a .906 SV% and a 2.86 GAA. While those numbers are not terrible, Quick set the bar high during the Kings 2011-12 Stanley Cup Playoffs with a performance that is unlikely to ever be equaled. Quick finished with a Stanley Cup and a .929 SV% and a 1.95 GAA. As long as the Kings offense maintains the scoring pace set in the first three rounds of the playoffs, Los Angeles will not need that kind of performance from Quick again to defeat the Rangers. However, if it turns into a defensive battle / goaltenders dual, Quick will need perform better than he has so far.
While Lundqvist has not put up 2011-12 Jonathan Quick numbers, his .928 SV% and 2.03 GAA has been a determining factor in the Rangers success. Lundqvist was simply lights out against the Montreal Canadiens in the Eastern Conference Final. Lundqvist will now have to face the top offense in the post-season, but let’s not forget the Kings were not known for goal scoring during the regular season. If anyone has the ability to slow down the Kings offense, it is Henrik Lundqvist.
I believe this series will open up with an onslaught of offense from the Los Angeles Kings. If they can dissect the Rangers defense and beat Lundqvist, we may have a repeat of the 2011-12 Final, where the Kings dispatched the New Jersey Devils with ease. If Lundqvist stops the Kings and keeps the score close, the Kings will find themselves in a goalie showdown, and with how things have shaped up so far, the advantage will then go to the New York Rangers and Henrik Lundqvist.