The last two goalies to win the Stanley Cup are currently up against one another in the Western Conference Final, but it’s hardly been a puck-stopping spectacle through the first five games.
Corey Crawford: 2-3, .882 save percentage, 3.41 GAA
Jonathan Quick: 3-2, .894 save percentage, 2.83 GAA
Quick’s best game of the series probably came in Game 2, when he stopped 23 of 25 shots — several of the highlight-reel variety — to help the Kings win their first-ever playoff game at the United Center.
Crawford’s best? The series opener was good (25 saves in a 3-1 win) but last night’s Game 5 OT win likely bests it, especially since Crawford — facing elimination for the first time this postseason — slammed the door shut for the final 49 minutes of action after allowing this softie to give L.A. a 4-3 lead:
What’s most surprising about developments on both the Quick and Crawford fronts is that, prior to the Western Conference Final, both were playing exceptionally well and posting great numbers. In Round 2, Crawford allowed just 12 goals in six games against the Wild, posting a .926 save percentage; Quick, facing elimination in Games 6 and 7 against Anaheim, stopped 46 of 49 shots (a .939 save percentage).
So… what’s gone wrong in this series?
“We haven’t been playing as well defensively this series, compared to the other two series. It’s more a reflection of how the whole team plays, and not just Crow,” Niklas Hjalmarsson said, per the Chicago Sun-Times. “Especially on the penalty kill, we’ve been letting in way too many goals.
“We can make an overall better effort to play defense.”
As for the Kings? Consider what Drew Doughty said (per LA Kings Insider) about last night’s first period, in which the Kings surrendered three goals in the first 11 minutes:
On the Game 5 loss:
It was a crappy loss and I’m not happy about that obviously. We would have liked to have closed it out tonight, but what can you do? We’re going back home and that’s where we’re comfortable.
[Reporter: Was it a crappy loss because you gave up so many goals?]
Yeah, for sure and the start we had was awful.
Poor defensive coverage. Slow starts. The calling cards, really, of teams trying to protect their goalies. But make no mistake about it — regardless of what the Chicago or L.A. skaters say, the goaltending hasn’t been great this series and neither ‘tender has stolen a game like they have in previous rounds.
(Quick’s signature steal was Game 2 against the Ducks, when L.A. was outshot 37-16 yet won 3-1; for Crawford it was Game 6 of the Wild series, as Chicago was outshot 35-27 yet won 2-1 in OT… at Xcel, no less.)
Will one of these two Cup-winning goalies stamp their authority on this series in Game 6?
Or, if it gets there, Game 7?