A huge part of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final was the battle between 2012 Cup winner Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings and Vezina Trophy winner Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers. The elite goalies went a long way in determining the way the series played out, with the Kings winning the Stanley Cup in five games.
Who had the upper hand? NHL.com scouted the goalies before the series and tracked their performance during each game, identifying trends affecting each. NHL.com correspondent Kevin Woodley, managing editor of InGoal Magazine, used the 360 Save Review System software from Double Blue Sports Analytics to chart the goals and shots against each goalie in each game of the Stanley Cup Final. Here are his findings from Game 5, a 3-2 double-overtime victory by the Kings which gave them the Stanley Cup for the second time in three seasons.
Quantity and quality: Using the home-plate area in front of the goalie as the qualifier, 27 of the 51 shots Lundqvist faced in Game 5 were considered Grade-A chances, making the last game his most difficult of the Stanley Cup Final. All three goals, and 15 shots in total, came from areas right around the edge of his crease.
Lundqvist's busy night included 10 shots off lateral passes, forcing him to move side to side and adjust to the new shot, nine of which were one-timers. The passes and one-timers were series-high totals faced by Lundqvist. There were seven screen shots, five deflections and seven shots off rebounds, including the game-winning goal by Alec Martinez.
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The high number of rebounds resulted from a combination of Lundqvist being slightly off compared to Game 4, when he swallowed or controlled almost every shot, and the Kings doing a better job getting to the net as Game 5 progressed.
The series-clinching goal was tougher than it first looked, with the initial rush shot changing direction off his defenseman's stick, making it a lot more difficult for Lundqvist to control the rebound.
Overall, 89 of the 194 shots (46 percent) Lundqvist faced in the Cup Final were from the Grade-A area, and on a game-to-game basis the shot chart showed more were in tight to the crease compared to those on Quick. Lundqvist did see more clean shots (82-63).
Backward momentum: As suggested in the scouting report from before the series, Lundqvist was at his best when he stayed over his knees on second-chance opportunities, attacking rebounds with quick lateral pushes while down on the ice. The way he tracked Dustin Brown across the crease in Game 4 was a perfect example. Conversely, when Lundqvist is not totally locked in, he has the tendency to fall back on rebounds, which left him unable to seal the ice on the first two goals in Game 5.
Glove rebounds: The breakdown of Lundqvist's game also noted the stiffer glove he prefers because it stays open and presents big. But the downside to that choice of equipment is the lack of flexibility in the glove can produce rebounds rather than clean saves. That contributed to seven rebound shots for the Kings in Game 5, which was almost as many as the first four games combined (nine). But as that scouting report also noted, Lundqvist almost always gets a piece of those shots, so it's interesting to note he did not give up a goal to the high glove in the Cup Final and surrendered two mid-glove. That's one reason high blocker was identified as a better shoot-to-score option, and though it produced two goals, including the Game 1 overtime winner by Justin Williams, and another was scored mid-blocker, the Kings favored the glove side by a slight 24-20 margin. There were several near misses high to the blocker during the final two games, including a couple of shots over the right shoulder which hit the crossbar.
Less of everything: Using the home-plate area as the qualifier, 13 of the 30 shots Quick faced in Game 5 were Grade-A, which fit the series trend with the notable exception of a much busier Game 3.
The Grade-A chances included both goals. Yet with the exception of Chris Kreider's power-play redirection into an open net on the backdoor, the Kings kept most of the Grade-A chances away from Quick's crease and farther out along the edges of home plate, continuing a trend which held true throughout the series. The Rangers were kept outside more, but when they did get in tight at key times, Quick's ability to seal the ice in the splits while building vertical coverage with his glove produced a handful of game-saving stops which helped kept this series short.
Overall, 63 of 146 shots (43 percent) on Quick came from inside the home-plate area, and he got a clean look at the same number.
Moving time: Kreider's power-play goal in Game 5 was a tap in, because the Rangers finally found a seam through the Kings defense that allowed New York to take advantage of Quick's aggressive positional habit. The shot chart for the series shows it's something the Rangers tried to exploit more often with one-time shots to catch Quick in transition. One-timers, or quick releases, occurred on 43 of 146 shots (29 percent), compared to 33 of 194 (17 percent) by the Kings against Lundqvist. The Rangers scored the only one-timer goals (three) in the series.
Quick's aggression and tendency to move laterally on his knees was exploited on Brian Boyle's shot against the grain in Game 5, catching Quick moving one way while the shot was placed back the other way.
High-glove, mid-blocker: For all the focus on Lundqvist's blocker after all three goals went in on that side in Game 1, the Rangers fired significantly more shots at the Quick's blocker. New York sent 24 shots mid-blocker, nine up high, and four above the pad on that side, scoring on four of the 37 attempts. On the other side, all three elevated goals were aimed high-glove as part of a nine-shot barrage in that area. Overall, 23 shots were elevated glove side compared to 37 on the blocker.
Nine of the mid-blocker shots came in Game 2, which included six of the first 10 being fired in that direction, so it may simply have been an overreaction to Kreider scoring there on a breakaway in Game 1, with Quick pulling out an old-school half-butterfly save attempt, keeping his glove and pad on that side up while dipping the blocker and shoulder on his right. It may also be the result of Quick's preference to use paddle-down saves in tight, which also lowers the right shoulder and drops his blocker to the ice with his stick.