A Duel Between Goalies
It's one of the oldest and most familiar plots in Hollywood: The seasoned veteran against the budding star. The Stanley Cup Final between the New Jersey Devils and Los Angeles Kings is centered around the play of Martin Brodeur and Jonathan Quick. As the series unfolds we could see the passing of the metaphorical torch or the exclamation to a brilliant career. It is a David vs. Goliath battle; the only question is who's who?
Historically speaking, Brodeur is the giant. Brodeur's records and accomplishments stretch so long I don't have enough coffee or time to list them all. The Devils' goalie has amassed four Vezinas (2003, '04, '07, '08); three Stanley Cups (1995, 2000, '03); two Olympic gold medals (2002, 2010) and pretty much every major statistical NHL record for goalies.
Brodeur is the greatest goalie of all time but the underdog in this series. Enter Jonathan Quick. The seperation between Quick and Brodeur on a historical level is farther than the distance from Newark and Los Angeles. After playing at the University of Massachusetts - Amherst, Quick had spent the majority of two seasons playing in the ECHL and AHL before becoming a fixture for the Kings in the 2008-09 season.
Quick has just begun taking steps to leave his footprint on the NHL. The Kings goalie is a Vezina trophy finalist this year with a Goals Against Average of 1.95 and a Save Percentage of .929.
Right now, Quick is the giant. The Kings unbelievable campaign through the top three seeds in the Western Conference is because of Quick. Quick's postseason stats have seesawed in his direction (GAA: 1.54, SVP: .946) catapaulting him and his team into the national spotlight.
Brodeur battled through a disappointing regular season (his standards are a bit higher than most goalies) enduring questions about his age. Anytime Broedur struggled reporters mentioned how old he is; he turned 40 in May, by the way.
Unphased, Brodeur has responded the way you think someone with his resume would. He continues to make crucial saves and play his best when it matters most. Like Quick, Marty has been the keystone to his teams success and unlikely run to the Stanley Cup Finals.
The most intruging storyline with both goalies is that their style of play (which has led their teams to the finals) might actually be a detriment in the series.
The Devils and Kings have so much depth with forwards they make the Mariana Trench look like a shoebox. Don't be suprised if some games have a lot of scoring despite strong goalie play.
Brodeur and Quick are not hermits and often find themselves far from the net. Brodeur, an excellent puck handler, loves playing behind the net. Often creating opportunities with his outlets Brodeur has given up goals to the Flyers and Rangers with clears that have gone wrong. The Kings' relentless and intelligent forecheck has given teams headaches this postseason and lead to high percentage scoring opportunities.
Quick will be seen several feet infront of the crease. His ability to limit angles by stepping forward has been succesful but can be dangerous. In the Western Conference Finals the Coyotes started to purporsely miss the cage banging hard shots wide of the net. The bounce off the boards would send the puck back to the crease where Quick was out of position because he roamed so far out. The Coyotes were unable to capitalize but the Devils' savy forwards - Henrique, Kovalchuk, and Parise - have a stronger presence and knack around the crease.
Brodeur and Quick are amazing at making improbable saves. Brodeur's scorpion save against the Rangers continues to dominate Sportcenter's top plays and there are times Quick looks like a human dradle, a breakdancer on skates.
The Stanley Cup will be won by the team that capitalizes on its scoring opportunities. The Conn Smythe trophy will be the slingshot in this David vs. Goliath battle.