Cory Schneider success in goal for Vancouver in Games 3 and 4 was covered earlier, and today, Darryl Sutter dialed up the praise even more when he called Schneider “clearly the best player on the ice’’ in Game 4. Sutter isn’t shy about challenging his players, and he’s not naive. Sutter knows that Jonathan Quick is a Vezina Trophy candidate, and while Sutter hasn’t been the slightest bit negative toward Quick, his heaping praise on the opposing goalie can be seen as a bit of a statement on his part. The subject came up in the context of special teams, and the fact that neither team has won a game in this series while losing the special-teams battle.
SUTTER: “The biggest part of your penalty killing is your goaltender, so that is a huge area. I think that Schneider was clearly the best player on the ice in the last game, by himself, so that impacted our power play. I think the number of power plays for both teams went down in the last game, which is a significant thing. As long as the hype of it doesn’t catch the officials by surprise, then you expect it to be the same way. If you’re going on season average, you’re only going to get three or four (power plays). That’s what it is. Perfect is zero (power plays allowed). Are you going to be perfect? Probably not.
“The last game was decided on special teams. We had a breakaway on a penalty (kill) and didn’t score. They we had a penalty shot on the kill and didn’t score. Then a few seconds later, they did. So you think of what the score would have been at that point. If you’re an eighth seed playing a President’s Trophy champion, you like being tied at that point.’’
Asked about the keys to Game 5, Jarret Stoll also mentioned special teams in addition to, in general, an improved defensive game by the Kings.
STOLL: “I think defensively, being quicker, faster, more physical. We can’t give them the time and space that we gave them in the last game here at home. Our penalty kill needs to be a little bit better in some of those areas. And our power play. We’ve got to score at least one power-play goal, if not two.’’