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Kings' stingy defense makes Quick's job easier

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

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Kings' stingy defense makes Quick's job easier
The Los Angeles Kings are 9-1 in the playoffs and are allowing a League-low 1.60 goals per game because of Jonathan Quick, but also because of the balance they have on the blue line with Drew Doughty, Rob Scuderi, Willie Mitchell, Slava Voynov, Alec Martinez and Matt Greene.

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Matt Greene says the mere presence of Jonathan Quick makes the job of Los Angeles' six defensemen so much easier.

"He is by far and away the biggest part of our defense," Greene told NHL.com.

Fair enough, but Quick isn't the end-all, be-all of the Kings' defense -- and he will be the first to say it.

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Los Angeles is 9-1 in the playoffs and is allowing a League-low 1.60 goals per game because of Quick, but also because of the balance it has on the blue line with Drew Doughty, Rob Scuderi, Willie Mitchell, Slava Voynov, Alec Martinez and Greene.

"We've got everything on every single pair," Doughty told NHL.com. "It's a great thing to have, just to show that depth. That has a lot to do with our success."

Doughty, Voynov and Greene are all right-handed shots while Scuderi, Mitchell and Martinez are lefties. So, they've got the natural righty-lefty pairs (Scuderi-Doughty, Mitchell-Voynov, and Greene-Martinez).

Doughty, Voynov and Martinez are considered the puck-movers, while Scuderi, Mitchell and Greene are the big-bodied stay-at-home types with big shots.

Quick, though, said all six can do the opposite of what they are supposed to be best at.

"You look at (Doughty), I guess you would call him a puck mover, but he's great defensively," Quick told NHL.com. "All six guys can do both sides of it really well."

It's not a coincidence either that the three experienced guys (Scuderi, Mitchell, Greene) each have a partner that is in his early- to mid-20s. Martinez is 24, but Doughty and Voynov are each 22 years old.

"I think each pair has its own chemistry," Scuderi said. "When you look beyond that, you can see we have a good mix of different types of defensemen. Mitchie and I kill penalties, try to shut down other top players. Then we have Drew, who's my No. 1 guy who can pretty much do anything and do it very well. We have some guys that can PK, some guys that can just do power play, whether it be secondary or be on the first unit. I just think it's a good mix and a good group."

In regards to special teams, they all have a role, except Doughty and Mitchell have dual roles as they both play power play and penalty kill. That's why they're each averaging over 25 minutes of ice time per game.

Voynov and Martinez are power play guys, while Greene and Scuderi kill penalties.

"As a group, we collectively do it through committee, everyone bringing their own personal strength and identity to our core," Mitchell said. "Hopefully we can continue to do that."

Having this kind of balance makes coach Darryl Sutter's job easier. He doesn't have to concern himself with over playing one guy out of lack of trust with another.

The Kings play the same style regardless of which pair is on the ice because there will always be a puck-mover with a stay-at-home guy, always be a lefty with a righty.

"You just play your game. You don't have to change the way you play," Doughty said. "Maybe if I was out there with Marty (Martinez) we would be thinking we have to sit back more than we usually would, but because we already have those guys in place that sit back and play solid defense we just play the same way we normally would."

It's also easier on the forwards because they know what to expect without having to look behind them or over to the bench to see which two blue-liners are coming over the boards.

They know that one of Doughty, Voynov or Martinez are more likely to jump into the play than Scuderi, Mitchell and Greene. But, they also realize that if the puck gets up the ice in a hurry and they're able to get it in deep, the three stay-at-home guys will jump in and can be a weapon with their big shots.

"That's totally right," Kings forward Jarret Stoll said. "They all move the puck well. They can all get up and down the ice and see the ice. When you're out there, up front, it doesn't really matter who is out there (on defense). We want to get everybody up in the play, everybody involved offensively. They all got great shots back there, so that's not an issue. It's a strong, strong group back there."

Quick makes them better. There's no doubt about that. However, even he'll tell you he's not the sole reason it is so hard to score on the Kings.

"I've had the pleasure of having them in front of me for a couple of years now and they really make my job a lot easier," he said. "That's how a team works. You need trust in the guy next to you in order for you to play as well as you can, and everybody is doing that right now."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter: @drosennhl

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