During the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, the Los Angeles Kings were blessed with a spectacular goaltending performance from Jonathan Quick. As a reward, they gave him a 10 year contract extension after the season that will ultimately pay him $58 million over that span.
This season, Quick might be even better. He is playing with a high amount of confidence, and thanks to his stellar efforts in the third period of last night’s Game 7, the Kings advanced to the Western Conference Finals for the second consecutive year with a 2-1 win over the San Jose Sharks.
The question, then, is whether or not Quick was the team’s MVP in the second round victory. Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo’s Puck Daddy blog sure thinks so, and it’s hard to argue with the case that he made:
“Quick isn’t just stopping pucks. He’s aggressively challenging shooters. He’s forcefully trying to clear out screens in front of him.
“Quick plays with a swagger, an attitude and intensity that we haven’t witnessed since Tim Thomas’s run to the Cup with the Boston Bruins. He draws calls like he’s Dustin Brown. He curses out officials after the game when he thinks his team was jobbed on penalty calls…
“He’s in complete control right now, locked into a zone no other player in the playoffs has located, meaning more to his team’s success than any other player in the postseason.”
That kind of praise is hard to top, but several Kings players at least challenged Quick’s anointment as unsurpassed team MVP in the second round.
Here are the other nominees:
The Kings’ defensive core doesn’t get a lot of credit when it comes to preventing goals, especially with a guy like Quick in net, but Voynov was a jack of all trades for the Kings in their second round series.
He not only played some very solid defense, especially on the penalty killing side of things (the Kings didn’t allow the Sharks a single power play goal in four games at the Staples Center, which helped them to a home sweep in the series), but also offensively. He ended up with five points in the seven games, and now has seven points in 13 playoff games to lead all Kings defensemen.
He may not get the headlines and publicity of our next nominee for second round MVP, but Voynov was a hugely important cog for the Kings in the series, and will be moving forward.
Doughty may not have had the offensive numbers in this series, but his defensive play was second to none.
He used his bruising physicality, his quick slapshot, and great ice awareness to full advantage in the series, posting an even plus/minus rating in the seven games despite playing over 27 minutes per game.
Doughty came into the league known mostly for his offensive prowess, but he has proven himself a very good defender over the past several years, and he is part of the young nucleus that is going to keep the Kings competitive for years to come.
After a sluggish start to the postseason, Kopitar seems to be hitting his stride on both sides of the puck.
Defensively, he has been superb, displaying some excellent forechecking abilities and even getting more involved on the backcheck as the series went on against the Sharks. He was a large part of the reason why the Sharks had some difficulties in the series’ final three games in getting their offensive pressure set up, and the 25 shots per game that the Kings allowed in those games is at least due in part to him.
In addition, his offensive game is starting to come around more as well, with a goal and two assists in the series’ final four games, including a tremendous pass in Game 7 that ended up setting up the game winning tally by Justin Williams.
Kopitar doesn’t get a lot of love as a two-way forward by the East Coast-heavy hockey media, but those that have watched his game can attest to the fact that he is solid in all areas, and that he is rightfully viewed as an elite player in the NHL.
And the Winner Is…
Despite the solid play of the other three guys we nominated, the winner still has to be Quick. Allowing only 10 goals against a team that lit up the Vancouver Canucks like a Christmas tree is an accomplishment that cannot be ignored, and thankfully the hockey media isn’t turning a blind eye to it.
If Quick can continue to dominate the game like he has in the first two rounds of these playoffs, then LA might have to begin planning another parade in the near future.