The Los Angeles Kings went from being up 2-0 and in the driver’s seat of their series against the Anaheim Ducks to being tied 2-2 and turning their best-of-seven series into a best-of-three after losing 2-0 in Game 4. Jonathan Quick was not the worst player on the ice for the Kings in the first period of Game 4. However, this did not stop Kings head coach Darryl Sutter from pulling Quick when the Kings were trailing 2-0 after one period. Sutter inserted rookie goalie Martin Jones to give the team a spark, and while their play noticeably improved it didn’t do the Kings any good as they were shut out and lost by that same 2-0 score. The best player for Anaheim was without question their rookie goaltender Jon Gibson who stopped all 28 shots the Kings threw at him. Gibson is without question the most decorated goaltender at his age in a long time as his international, junior and minor league numbers in playoff/elimination games are beyond impressive.
The road team has won every game in this series, and that trend bodes well for the Kings’ confidence as Game 5 (and if needed Game 7) is in Anaheim. A goalie like Quick can win anywhere and in any environment, but the team needs to step up around him. Surely their confidence is at an all-time low as they watched their Conn Smythe winner get pulled while being shutout by a goalie young enough to be a college sophomore. It is important to remember this is a very resilient team that has faced adversity countless times over the last three playoff runs. If they wish to continue this remarkable season they will need to apply the lessons they have learned in these situations in Games 5,6 (and possibly) 7.
For the Kings to win two of their next three games, Quick will need to match Gibson save for save as the rookie’s confidence and youthful enthusiasm will only grow with each shot he turns aside. Even if Quick plays to the level he is capable of, the players around him still need to show up as too often the team’s offense has been anything but consistent. If the team wants to advance to the Western Conference Finals for the third consecutive year a more balanced attack will be needed. If the Kings play their game it’ll be tough for any team and any goalie, even an uber-confident rookie, to beat them and end their season.