NHL Los Angeles Kings

Jonathan Quick’s Early Struggles Could be Huge Concern for Los Angeles Kings

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday, Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick claimed his team could beat the San Jose Sharks because they “just hate to lose.” Well, with that take in mind, you have to assume the Kings were fuming this morning.

In an evening filled with exciting overtime hockey across the Stanley Cup Playoffs, drama wasn’t anywhere to be seen in San Jose last night. The Sharks pasted the Kings to the tune of 6-3 in Game 1 of their series. Coming into the third period, San Jose had already built a 5-0 lead, and essentially let off the gas in the final frame. However, not every Kings player even made it to the third period.

Quick had a night to forget, allowing five goals on 28 shots, good for a save percentage of .821. He was yanked after the second period, replaced by backup Martin Jones. When asked about his starting goalie’s performance and the call to pull him from the game, coach Darryl Sutter was more than a little blunt.

“I think I could’ve made the decision earlier,” said Sutter.

Obviously it’s just one game, so you don’t want to overreact. At the same time, Quick’s performance is definitely a red flag the team needs to be concerned about.

First of all, let’s not heap 100% of the blame on the goalie. The team in front of Quick hardly played to their full potential. It was clear from the get-go the Sharks were locked in. The Kings, on the other hand, looked sloppy and out of sorts, something captain Dustin Brown made note of during the post-game media scrum. Quick can’t do it all, and if the rest of the team can’t get themselves together, it certainly doesn’t help his chances.

That said, this is in no way putting lipstick on a pig here. Quick’s primary job is to stop the other team from scoring. Yes, the Kings struggled as a whole, but at the end of the day the goalie is counted on to bail his team out. He’s done so before, he has a Stanley Cup and a Conn Smythe Trophy to prove it. This is not unfamiliar territory for Quick, and for the Kings to win this series, they’ll need their netminder at the top of his game.

Pardon the bad pun, but the Sharks smell blood in the water. They just beat their rivals up and down the ice and put five goals past one of the best goalies in the NHL. Los Angeles better believe they’ll see the same kind of intensity from their opponent throughout this series, last night was just a preview. If Quick thinks he’ll see a more relaxed effort from the Sharks Sunday in Game 2, he’s got another thing coming.

The Kings are most likely not overly worried about Quick’s performance last night. A turnaround in Game 2 will easily put Game 1’s struggles in the rear-view. However, if Quick lays another egg in the crease and San Jose takes a two game lead in the series, it might be time for Los Angeles to start reaching for the panic button.

Casey Drottar is an NHL writer for Rantsports.com. Follow him on Twitter @CDrottar19 or “Like” him on Facebook