(Photo: Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports)

“There is no position in sport as noble as goaltending.” –Vladislav Tretiak

Henrik Lundqvist.  Jonathan Quick.  Two world-class goalies vying for victory in this year’s Stanley Cup Final.  Two netminders who will undoubtedly go down in NHL history.  Two brick walls.

Lundqvist says Quick is “extremely aggressive, he’s like a gymnast.”  Quick says Lundqvist “is one of the best in the world.”

Between them, they have a Stanley Cup ring, a Vezina trophy, a Conn Smythe trophy, a William M. Jennings trophy, an Olympic gold medal, two Olympic silver medals, an ESPY award, a handful of NHL All-Star appearances, and 570 NHL wins. They are highly decorated hockey nobility.  And in two weeks, they’ll have at least another four wins to add to their combined list of accomplishments.

The only question: whose wins will they be?

As the New York Rangers and the Los Angeles Kings face off against each other in the Stanley Cup Final for the first time ever, two of the league’s best goalies will go head-to-head in the best-of-7 final round.  Lundqvist enters Game 1 with a .920 career save percentage, while Quick boasts a .915 percentage overall.  Basically, don’t expect any high-scoring games in this series.

Action shot of Lundqvist and/or Quick in goal on any given day

Action shot of Lundqvist and/or Quick in goal (via Twitter)

Both Lundqvist and Quick are known for being butterfly style goalies, or goalies who guard the lower part of the net by blocking shots on their knees.  However, that’s where their immediate playing similarities end.  An article on InGoalMag.com breaks down these two goalies’ differences:

“Quick, who also won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in 2012, is arguably the most aggressive positioned goalie in the NHL. He plays an outside-in style, challenging way, way beyond the top edge of his crease and retreating backwards against the rush. Quick even manages to get back beyond the blue ice on chances generated from end-zone play, relying on incredible lateral mobility, especially from the knees, to quickly recover all that extra depth he takes on the initial shooter. Quick plays low, hunched over and tracking down.

At the other end, Lundqvist, who took home the Vezina Trophy the year Quick won the Cup, is the exact opposite. He plays the inside-out style taught to him be New York Rangers goalie guru Benoit Allaire, starting from the goal line and staying deeper in the blue ice. Where Quick plays low and a lot from his knees, Lundqvist relies on patience to stay on his skates longer than any other goaltender in the NHL.”

Goal locations vs. Jonathan Quick in the 2014 playoffs (via NHL.com)

Goal locations vs. Henrik Lundqvist in the 2014 playoffs (via NHL.com)

The charts show that most of the goals scored on Quick have been higher up, while the majority of the goals against Lundqvist have come low on his right-hand side.  So it’s going to be up to the Rangers and Kings to take advantage of these weak(er) areas against these two goaltenders; the Rangers will need to lift the puck and try to go top-shelf on Quick, while the Kings should shoot for Lundqvist’s blocker side.

Theoretically, at least.

Lundqvist’s backhand twist save, Game 6 vs. MTL 5/29/14 (via bleacherreport.com)

Quick’s “Save of the Year” scorpion save vs. WPG 3/29/14 (via TheRoyalHalf)

So…who has the advantage here?

Defense will be key to either team’s success, because as good as Lundqvist and Quick are, they’re going to need help when the puck is in their respective defensive zones.  And offensively, both teams just need to keep shooting: in the playoffs, especially in the final round, any shot on goal is a good shot–the puck can’t go in the net if it doesn’t have the opportunity to do so.

But as far as goaltending goes, well.  It’s nearly impossible to pick one over the other.

As overused as the phrase is, this one is truly a toss-up.  This series features arguably the two best goalies in the entire NHL, and there are going to be some amazing saves on both sides of the ice, no matter what.  However these next four to seven games play out, it’s going to take a total team effort to win the Cup.

One is known as the King.  The other plays for the Kings.

Who will come away with the crown?

Stephanie is currently a student at Roger Williams University and is working toward a BFA in Creative Writing and Film. She is hoping to pursue a master's degree in Sports Journalism after graduating. Stephanie is a former basketball player and now enjoys writing from the sidelines (though she wouldn't be opposed to watching from a press box). She quite literally turned into a full-fledged hockey fan overnight, and she is the lone Rangers/Blackhawks fan in a family of hardcore Bruins fans. During the offseason, she enjoys writing, film, traveling, and theatre. Twitter: @stephanielynn_

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