Stanley Cup 2012: A tale of two goaltenders
Ask anyone at the beginning of the NHL regular season if they predicted the Los Angeles Kings and the New Jersey Devils going at it for the Stanley Cup and it’s almost unanimous: people would think you’re crazy. But neither of these teams has been anything short of spectacular on their journey to the finals, especially when it comes to goaltending.
It is a battle of the titans when you look between the goal posts of these two teams; Jonathan Quick has been a monstrous up-and-comer for the eighth seeded Kings in the West, earning his first-ever Vezina Trophy nomination this year. Martin Brodeur, meanwhile, is going into his fifth Stanley Cup Final for the sixth-seeded Devils with three cups under his belt and playing some of his best hockey despite being at the ripe age of 40.
To many, Quick has been the best goalie in these playoffs; having only lost two of his 14 games so far, along with winning all eight of the Kings road games, he is a force to be reckoned with. Couple that with the fact that he is sporting a 1.54 goals-against-average and .946 save percentage this post-season, and he’s possibly the most dangerous player in the Kings lineup.
Being a relative newcomer to the playoffs, since the Kings were defeated early the last two years, Quick has shown his prowess in the postseason and has been one of the saving graces for his team on their run to finally hoist the Stanley Cup after 45 years in the league.
Brodeur is entering this final as a record holder in almost every major goaltending category, yet he is being seen as the underdog for this series. That being said, the man who recently celebrated his 40th birthday is playing some of his best hockey yet with 13 games where he allowed two goals or less.
Some even compare it to his performance in 2003.
With talks of retirement after this season as well, it is only fitting for one of the greatest goaltenders of all time to go out with a bang and win one final cup to solidify his place in hockey history.
Goaltending is only one part of the battle when it comes to the finals, so the question it begs to ask is: who has the better team? It’s hard to use regular season statistics as a determining factor seeing as they’ve both been exceptionally better since then.
Both teams have been disappointing on the powerplay with the Kings at 8.1 per cent and the Devils around 18 per cent in the playoffs, but the Kings have a secret weapon in their penalty kill which has been nearly unbeatable. The fact that they’ve scored five shorthanded goals as well only adds to that.
The Devils barely managed to sneak through the first round whereas the Kings have dominated every opponent they’ve faced thus far. Both teams continue to grow better, but as far as these playoffs go, I’m going to have to give the Kings the advantage with their phenomenal goaltending, solid defensive unit and the stepping up of their forwards to score some goals, especially captain Dustin Brown who was the subject of trade rumours before his breakout postseason.
Even though both are solid teams overall, the real show for these finals is looking to take place at the far ends of the ice, and it’s going to be nothing short of a spectacular story- no matter who ends up hoisting the cup in the end.