Sunday, May 5, 2013

Blues' plan to distrupt Quick: take his ice away

Kings' netminder one of most aggressive at taking shooters' angles

LOS ANGELES -- The Blues saw firsthand how effective Jonathan Quick was during last season's Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Los Angeles Kings' goalie allowed only six goals in a four-game sweep of the Blues in the Western Conference Semifinals. Quick went on to win the Conn Smythe Trophy and helped the Kings franchise to its first-ever Stanley Cup.

And even though the Blues have a 2-1 series lead over the Kings this year in the Western Conference Quarterfinals, Quick has been as good as advertised again despite laying blame on himself in losses of Games 1 and 2 in St. Louis.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Jonathan Quick (left) kicks out the right pad on a one-timer by the Blues'
David Backes during Saturday's game.
"He's a tough goalie to play against," Blues wing T.J. Oshie said of Quick after Sunday's practice at Staples Center. "He proved it last year obviously, and he's doing a good job of it this year."

Quick is 1-2 with a 1.25 goals-against average and .959 save percentage, which is good for third in the playoffs among starting goaltenders. Only his counterpart [the Blues' Brian Elliott] and Braden Holtby of the Washington Capitals pose greater numbers. So as the Blues work on trying to gain a split in L.A. and keep the Kings from evening the series Monday night, they'll keep trying to throw more bodies Quick's way and keep him contained in his crease. After all, no goalie in the League challenges shooters and cuts down angles quite like Quick does.

"With an aggressive goalie like him, one thing we've got to do is get in front of him just to keep him in the crease, but I think we're doing a pretty good job of that," Oshie said. "I think more so, we're over-attacking on our net-drives at times to where we're beating their d-men to the net, but the rebounds are kicking out behind us. With a goalie that comes out so far, the rebounds aren't laying around in the crease. They're laying around on the hash marks.

"We had plenty of chances on rebounds for goals [Saturday] night. I think it just comes down to burying them. I think if we pop one there, it's a little different story. We had a couple roll off guys' sticks, a couple bounce on us. I think we're doing a great job getting to the net. We're getting a lot of shots there. A little more traffic maybe, but I think more so just smarter net-drives."

The Blues were unable to score on the plethora of scoring chances they got and Quick was able to withstand all 30 Blues' shots in a 1-0 victory in Game 3.

One player who has seemed to get under Quick's skin is David Perron, who drew an extra penalty on the Kings' Drew Doughty after another collision with the Kings' netminder. Perron and Quick have had their little spats the entire season, a ploy Perron thinks is one good way of disrupting Quick's concentration.

"This goalie is probably the guy that has our number the most in the league, and that's why we've got to get to him as much as we can and drive to the net," Perron said. "He's getting [upset] in there and hopefully we can score a couple on him.
"I think there's a few times I got in there, he was starting to get frustrated and we need guys to do that and taking penalties on us. We got some power plays on that [Saturday] and I think that part of our game was maybe a little better. That could be a difference in a game."

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock wouldn't call Quick an unorthodox goalie, just one that is relentless.

"I don't think he's unorthodox. I think he's not big and he plays to his strengths, and I think they play well around him," Hitchcock said of Quick and the Kings. "They take away any second opportunities knowing that he can make the first save.

"I don't think he's unorthodox. I think he's very athletic. I think his best strength is he never gives up on a shot. You've got to put it through the net if you're going to beat him. I think they make a lot of plays around him that prevent it from going in because they box out well and you're going to have to fight a little harder for more space if you're going to score on those second opportunities."
(St. Louis Blues photo)
The Kings' Jonathan Quick (32) has seen enough of the Blues' David
Perron (middle) during their playoff series. Perron drew an extra minor
penalty from Drew Doughty (8) on this play.

When asked if he's seen a goalie play quite like Quick does, Oshie said: "Not since we were younger when the goalies were so small, they had to come out that far. The one thing that helps him is how strong he is on pushing, he can come out that far because he's strong enough to recover to the other side. ... We're getting our chances. I think it just comes down to us burying them."

Andy McDonald, who had one of those high-percentage scoring chances in the second period Saturday night, calls Quick one of a kind.

"It's his own style," McDonald said. "I don't know if there's another guy in the league that plays like that, so aggressive. There's things that we can do to try and get him to back up a little bit, but I think just kind of stick to the same game plan and do the things we were doing in getting pucks to the net and the things you always hear, they're real important. I think it's not a question of we're not generating enough offense. It's just that last touch around the net that's the difference.

"I think if we can get to the front of the net and take that ice away where he likes to be, that will obviously keep him back, but it's a tough thing to do. The game's so fast and you have to go side-to-side to get to that position. You want to have somebody in front, but to go in there with the idea that you're going to disrupt him, it's more about getting to the net and perhaps getting a stick on a puck and getting the position away from the defenseman so you don't get boxed out. He does a good job of moving laterally, getting out and challenging the shot."