Battle of the goalies?

Prevailing wisdom heading into these Western Conference Finals is that the series will be a battle of the goalies. (Then again, which series isn’t?) Jonathan Quick is a Vezina Trophy finalist, and Mike Smith easily could have been one as well. Quick had a 1.95 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage, while Smith had a 2.21 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage. Naturally, neither goalie was perfect for the entire season. Smith was good in the first half of the season but was fantastic in the second half. Quick was strong on a consistent basis throughout the season, but had one wobbly stretch in early March. That’s not entirely surprising, given that the Kings spent almost all of February on the road. Darryl Sutter referenced that period today, when asked about Quick’s ability to bounce back…

SUTTER: “I think there was a time in March where he really struggled, and I think he handled it really well and we tried to manage his time. I think, after the All-Star break, you can check but I think he only played two or three back-to-back games, so you try to manage it, manage his practices properly, because he’s a guy who is going to work hard, always, in practice but you’ve got to make sure he’s working on the game-situation things. I think that’s, a lot of times, where those top guys, when they have a little bit of an issue in the game, it’s in their practice habits, because maybe they’re playing too much, or the travel has caught up with them a little. It probably did, with him, a little in early March there.”

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