EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- As the days tick away toward the start of the Stanley Cup finals, the matchup between goalies continues to provide one of the most intriguing storylines.
Will the experience of Martin Brodeur of the New Jersey Devils trump the youth of Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings?
And will seven days off following L.A.’s five-game victory against the Phoenix Coyotes in the West finals leave Quick a bit rusty, or will the 40-year-old Brodeur begin feeling the effects of 18 starts and more than 1,000 playoff minutes through the first three rounds?
Look for those answers to come to light beginning Wednesday night in Newark, N.J., when they drop the puck for Game 1
Brodeur, the league’s all-time leader in games played and regular-season victories, has appeared in 187 playoff games, winning three Stanley Cup titles. Quick will be appearing in his 27th postseason game, and the 26-year-old from Milford, Conn. didn’t win a playoff series until this spring.
When it comes to recent statistics, however, the pendulum swings back toward Quick.
During the regular season, he was No. 1 in goals-against average (1.95) among goalies who appeared in at least half their games and No. 3 in save percentage (9.29). Brodeur, meanwhile, was 11th in GAA (2.41) and 25th in save percentage (.908).
Both have bettered those marks in the postseason, but Quick is still half a goal better than his counterpart in goals-against average, and his save percentage (.949) is also noticeably higher than Brodeur’s (.923).
What may end up tipping the scale in favor of Quick is the difference in workloads heading into the finals. Quick has played just 14 games in the seven weeks since the regular season ended, facing 406 shots in 857 minutes of ice time. Brodeur has started 18, been pulled in one and faced 479 shot in 1,089 minutes.
Some might wonder if the seven days between games could affect Quick’s rhythm, but he experienced similar breaks between the second and third rounds and never suffered a dip in performance.
“Our guys know how to handle it and that’s a positive thing,” said Kings goalie coach Bill Ranford. “If you go two long series and then, all of a sudden, you get a long delay and you haven’t had it happen to you before, you may not know how to react to it, but we’ve gone through it twice.”
Keeping his goalie’s rhythm in mind, Kings coach Darryl Sutter had the team scrimmage Saturday, then kept them out for a longer-than-usual practice session Sunday.
“That’s basically how we have to approach it,” Ranford said. “Mix it up a little bit so it doesn’t become tedious. That’s what Darryl does a good job of, as far as game-planning and making sure that we’re revving things up as we move along the week.”