The LA Kings looked anything but dominant in their game 5 match up with the New Jersey Devils, as the Devils came back with a 2-1 win to force a game 6 in LA. It appears as if the pressure of hoisting the Cup has finally gotten to the Kings, and nobody seemed to be feeling it more than goaltender Jonathon Quick.
Quick has been the runaway Conn Smythe nominee in this series through 3 games, but has come a bit unhinged in the past 2 games. He played deep into his net and made some uncharacteristic errors. It’s almost as if his normally aggressive game style has been replaced by a careful, fearful one. His focus doesn’t appear to be on winning the Cup; it appears to be not losing it for his team.
Game five was faster, angrier, more physical and more riddled with errors than any other game in this Stanley Cup Final. No team was a calm, dominant force; everyone made errors. Both goaltenders nearly gave the game away with mistakes, and for once, luck was on Brodeur’s side, as the Kings hit more posts in this game than in all 4 previous games combined.
This isn’t to say that the Devils didn’t deserve a dose of luck. Some hard luck bounces made the true difference in games 1 and 2 for the Devils, who have been fair competition for the Kings. Game 3 was when the Devils lost it entirely, losing their poise and their spirit and LA ran away with that game and the series momentum. It seemed that it was won and done; then LA crumbled to expectations themselves at home and played from behind in Newark.
Series are often about momentum, and the momentum is swinging in New Jersey’s direction right now. LA has given the Devils a chance to regain their confidence and their swagger; days of rest reinforced those feelings in the New Jersey locker room. They’ve also gotten a healthy dose of hate for their Western opponents. The late scrum on Brodeur showed the level of frustration that LA is feeling with the Cup seeming to slip from their fingers. New Jersey’ s disdain for Quick is also coming through; he’s not the impenetrable fortress that they thought he was and they’re not giving him the same level of respect.
What New Jersey has to do to win game 6: more of the same. Taking a page out of Washington’s book, New Jersey has learned that less is more when it comes to your superstar players and Kovalchuk is making better use of less ice time. Captain Zach Parise is coming through for his team in a clutch situation and he needs to remain strong in order to help them win. Brodeur just has to keep smiling and staying positive all the way.
What LA has to do to win game 6: stay calm and stay hungry. LA has been willing their way to the Cup and they need to maintain that high level of play and physicality to win it all. Quick has to remain poised and play the aggressive, athletic style that has carried him to this point. LA is stronger than New Jersey and they need to use their strength.
About the Author
Written by Mika Oehling
Office worker and sports nerd. Cannot play a professional sport to save my life, but love to write. Prone to rants, raves, snarky humour and caustic commentary. My team's the Ottawa Senators. Author of Armchair Hockey, a work of humourous fiction released this year and available for sale online at Chapters and Amazon.