Entering Game 3 of Monday night’s 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Final, Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick had allowed 65 goals compared to New York Rangers‘ Henrik Lundqvist‘s 47 in the playoffs. When the Kings won the Cup in 2012, Quick allowed only 29 shots on net to set off the horn and light-up the bulb red over the 20 games he started. His save percentage in the Kings’ title run was a ridiculous .946 that year, compared to its current state of .906 in 2014.
For as stoic as Lundqvist has been in helping get the Rangers to the Final, it has been Quick’s bend-but-don’t-break play that has been the difference thus far in the series. The Kings got here with satisfactory performances by Quick, but it was mostly their ability to come out on top in high scoring affairs that allowed them to prevail. They are the highest scoring team in the 2014 playoffs, averaging 3.52 goals per game to date.
But Quick has elevated his play in the first three games of this best of seven, posting his second shutout of the playoffs tonight, despite his squad being outshot 32-15 by the Rangers in the contest. Quick saw the puck very well in the game, as he defied the Rangers’ will to score on all six of their power play opportunities.
Taking a 3-0 series lead on the road can’t be overlooked in terms of momentum and having the Rangers backed into a corner. A series sweep may be imminent for L.A., but a comeback is highly unlikely for New York. That feat has happened only once in the history of the Stanley Cup Final, when the Toronto Maple Leafs won four straight over the Detroit Red Wings in 1942.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman certainly wishes the Rangers were putting up a better fight in this classic battle of East versus West. More games equals more revenue — that’s Finance 101. But much like 2Pac has outpaced Biggie Smalls in lifetime album sales, Hollywood annually out-earns Broadway and democracy persevered over communism. So too are the West and its monarchs of the hockey arena looking poised to emerge triumphant as champions of the 2013-14 NHL season.