Devils: Quantity plus quality is key to beating Quick
NEWARK, N.J. -- Prior to the Eastern Conference Finals, a reporter told Devils captain Zach Parise that the book on how to beat Henrik Lundqvist says you have to shoot high.
Parise responded, "Can I get a copy of that book."
Now he wouldn't mind getting his hands on the book on how to beat Jonathan Quick.
"We all knew how well Lundqvist was playing going into the series and it's similar with Quick," Parise said. "There's no secret he's been one of the best all year, as well."
The Kings goalie, one of the leading candidates for the Conn Smythe Trophy heading into Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final at Prudential Center (8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS), has been a focal point of the pre-series hype for good reason. He leads the NHL with a 12-2 record, 1.54 goals-against average and .946 save percentage through three rounds.
Quick gave up eight goals in five games against the Canucks, six goals in four games against the Blues, and eight goals in five games against the Coyotes.
Goalie - LAK
GAA: 1.54 | SVP: 0.946
For the Devils to win the Stanley Cup for the fourth time since 1995, they're going to have to find the holes in Quick that the Canucks, Blues and Coyotes couldn't. The good news is they already have experience at figuring out how to beat a Vezina Trophy candidate.
Without reading the so-called book, the Devils still knocked Lundqvist and the Rangers out in six games.
"This isn't anything new," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. "For us, the same things apply that applied to trying to get some goals past Lundqvist."
They include getting traffic in front of the goalie and shots through to him. The Devils were able to do the latter against Lundqvist starting with Game 2. They were able to consistently combine it with the former starting with Game 4.
They won the series in six games by scoring 13 goals on Lundqvist in their four wins. They didn't score in either of their losses, but they did pepper him with 36 shots in Game 3.
"You can't get frustrated," DeBoer said. "Lundqvist shut us out two of the first three games of that series despite what I thought was a pretty significant territorial edge on our part and we stuck with it. You're not going to get to guys like this easily and they're going to frustrate you at different points of the series. It's battling through, but we have that experience now. We got rewarded for taking that approach against Lundqvist and we'll have to do the same thing here."
There is a significant difference between Lundqvist and Quick, according to Devils backup goalie Johan Hedberg, a student of the position.
"Henrik is more methodic and more technical than Quick," Hedberg told NHL.com. "Even though Quick is still great technically, he relies more on his athleticism. He's not afraid to challenge. He's more active around the net. He doesn't play as deep [in the crease] as Henrik. Henrik sits back in his crease all the time so a play across is not that big of an advantage, but if you get Quick to commit you might have more of a back-door opening."
Getting Quick to commit while still having the proper time to a good shot off is not easy to do. Just ask the Canucks, Blues and Coyotes.
Parise said a key is to have the defensemen shooting for deflections. Maybe then Quick will commit to where the puck is supposed to be going before it changes direction to throw him off balance.
"And, they've done a really good job of that," Parise said of the Devils blue-liners shooting for deflections. "They did a great job of that last series, we had a lot of deflection goals and rebound goals. It's a lot tougher for a goalie to stop them with a deflection. It's our responsibility, too, as forwards to get there and get our sticks available."
Stats alone would suggest that the Devils, provided they are able to get puck possession against the Kings, should be able to get more shots through against Quick than they did against Lundqvist. The Rangers blocked 18 shots per game in the playoffs while the Kings are blocking 14 per game.
The Rangers allowed 28 shots per game in the playoffs (27 per game against the Devils). The Kings are allowing 29 shots per game in the playoffs.
"The volume of shots is going to be huge," said Devils defenseman Peter Harrold, who played with Quick and the Kings last season. "The more he has to work, the harder it's going to be for him. That's going to be our focus. Just throwing pucks on the net, sometimes they squeak in, sometimes they get tipped and they go high. It's just a function of getting as many shots as we can on him and making him work hard for it."
Preferably very early in Game 1, Parise said.
The Devils didn't make Lundqvist work hard in the first period of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. He got comfortable and made 21 saves for the shutout. New Jersey was aggressive early in games for the rest of the series, and finished with an 8-1 advantage in goals in the first period, including 7-1 during the final three games.
The Rangers lone first-period goal came in Game 5, after New Jersey had taken a 3-0 lead.
"We had gotten shut out twice in three games, and in Game 4 we got one past him early," Parise said. "You start to feel good about it, and then you're more confident shooting. The one thing you don't want to do when a goalie is playing well is to look for a perfect shot or try to pass up opportunities. We have to make sure with Quick that we put a lot of pressure on him."