Blackhawks create traffic in front of Quick
CHICAGO -- The Anaheim Ducks scored 15 goals against Jonathan Quick in the seven-game Western Conference Second Round series that ended Friday.
In the Western Conference Final last year, the Chicago Blackhawks scored 16 goals against Quick and the Kings, in five games, and advanced to the Stanley Cup Final.
Clearly, the Blackhawks believe they know a thing or two about beating one of the game's best and brightest goaltenders.
The Blackhawks put three pucks past Quick in a 3-1 victory at United Center on Sunday afternoon in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final. Game 2 is Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, RDS).
"We need to get traffic," Chicago power forward Bryan Bickell said. "He is one of the elite goalies. If he is able to see it, he'll be able to stop. So, if we can create havoc any way in front of him and keep his eyes away from the puck, I think we will have good opportunities to score."
Chicago scored the first goal Sunday by following that blueprint to the letter on the first power play of the game.
Brandon Saad encamped approximately two inches outside the blue paint of Quick's crease. He ignored the attentions of Kings defenseman Jeff Schultz by finding some open ice and posting up against Quick, taking away his vision of the play. Marian Hossa passed the puck to the point for a shot by Nick Leddy, which was hard and along the ice.
"I was trying to get to the net and, luckily, it went off my leg," Saad said.
Modesty aside, it took a fair bit of skill to be in the right place at the right time and influence the flight of the puck in a positive manner for the Blackhawks.
"You got to be there first," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "There's a willingness to get there; probably a price to pay. Sometimes they go off you. I know they've had some success by being there, fortunate bounces off our pads or sticks, we don't even know it hits us.
"It all makes your power play work by being there first of all; then you get a shooting mentality. If you're looking for a perfect goal on a power play it's not going to happen."
Emboldened by Saad's success, the Blackhawks made a habit of going to the net hard, taking away Quick's space and line of sight. On almost every offensive possession, there was a Blackhawks forward and a Kings defenseman jousting for position on the lip of the crease. Quick was forced to bob and weave around the obstructions, looking to pick up the puck.
In the second period, forward Jonathan Toews went hard to the net on a rush, getting right on top of Quick, literally, and he lost control of the puck. Toews and Quick went down in a heap and the puck skittered off the skate of Los Angeles defenseman Solava Voynov and into the net.
Eventually, it was ruled no goal by the officials because of the contact between Toews and Quick. But it was further validation that the goals against Quick are going to come from in close, by winning the hotly contested real estate around the Los Angeles goalie.
Later in the period, Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith scored the game-winner from the blue line, but the puck hit a Kings defender and bounced off the ice and over Quick's glove, behaving in a manner similar to if it had been tipped by a Blackhawks player in close.
Now, the area around Quick will become even more valuable. The Kings have two days to study and adjust. They know that taking away Chicago's down-low position is at the top of the to-do list for Game 2. Chicago knows it can't allow Los Angeles to do that if it wants to have the best possible chance to score goals against a goaltender that has made a habit of stealing games and series in the past few years.
"They got a good goaltender; it was nice to get some goals on him and get a win," Saad said.