Jonathan Quick’s playoff victory is historic for Kings
Jonathan Quick’s 24-save effort Saturday in the 3-2 overtime victory that tied the Kings’ playoff series against Vancouver at one game each was momentous on many levels.
It was Quick’s first playoff victory and his first victory in 10 starts, including a 3-2 overtime loss in the series opener on Thursday.
But it also gets a footnote in Kings history because — as researched by Times staff writer Chris Foster — it was the first Kings playoff victory earned by a goaltender the Kings had drafted since 1993, when RobbStauber won three games during the team’s run to the Stanley Cup finals including the opening-round clincher against Calgary.
Goalies drafted by the Kings had won only nine playoff games for the team before Quick’s triumph Saturday. Six of those victories were earned by Mario Lessard and three by Stauber.
Only six goalies drafted by the Kings have ever appeared in a playoff game for the team. That list is led by Lessard (6-12), Stauber (3-1) and Quick (1-1). The others are Jamie Storr (0-3), Doug Keans (0-2), and Darren Eliot (0-0).
Quick will return in goal for Game 3 Monday at Staples Center, and Coach Terry Murray on Sunday acknowledged for the first time that he and his staff had harbored some anxiety during Quick’s late-season struggles.
“We had a concern going in. I’m not going to kid you,” Murray said. “Looking at the last bunch of games that he played after the Olympics, there was a lot going on in his life with the new baby. A little loss of focus at times.
“But the one thing we’ve always talked about Jonathan Quick is his ability to refocus and show that mental toughness, to bounce back after a goal that he wished he had, or a game that wasn’t quite the ‘A’ game that he normally shows. Right now he’s back on track. He had a great first game. He had an even better second game.”
Quick said he and his teammates have no reason to feel anything but confident.
“It’s a great way to finish off those two games up there,” he said Sunday after the team practiced at El Segundo.
“Even that first game could have gone either way. It’s a series where they could be up 2-0, we could be up 2-0. Both games could have gone either way. Both teams have been playing some really good hockey.
“As far as the confidence level goes, we were confident going in. Even after we lost that first game we were confident going into Game 2. That game didn’t change anything. After that win it gives us a bit of momentum going into Game 3 and it’s going to be exciting to play here in front of our home fans.”
Always on a Sunday
Despite a long flight home from Vancouver after Saturday’s game, Murray put the team through a full practice Sunday. The idea was to help the players stay focused and keep their emotions in check after their series-tying triumph.
“It’s important to celebrate, enjoy, and at the same time you’ve got to get right back to work. And that was a big part of why I wanted to get back on the ice today,” he said. “The attitude is there’s lots more to do and we’ve got to get our focus back with good hard work and get prepared for [Monday].”
With the home team having the last line change, the Kings will have an easier time getting the matchups they want against the line of NHL scoring champion Henrik Sedin, his twin, Daniel, and winger Alex Burrows. Murray primarily countered them with the shutdown defense pair of Rob Scuderi and Drew Doughty, but he also used the line of Brad Richardson, strong defensive center Michal Handzus and Fredrik Modin against that trio.
The Sedin line, effective in Game 1, was blanked in Game 2.
“We are aware that Vancouver have the premier line in hockey. They’ve got the leading scorer. We’ve got to make sure we’ve got the right matchup against them,” Murray said.
“We had Doughty and Scuderi as the matchup we wanted in the last two games. We tried to make it more on the fly last game. Now I have that [last] change, and I’m looking probably at Handzus’ line, more consistently being able to match him up against Sedin. I hope it has an effect.”
Home is where the playoffs are
Monday’s game will mark another first for many Kings who made their postseason debut on Thursday: This will be their first home playoff contest, and they’re eager to draw energy from a crowd they anticipate will be loud.
“I’m pretty sure the place is going to be rocking,” center Anze Kopitar said. “It’s one of those things where they’ve been waiting eight years for this to happen again, so I think they’ll be pretty pumped up and we’re going to be pumped up and hopefully we’ll get a good outcome.”