From time to time, when L.A. Kings sniper Anze Kopitar struggles, he’ll seek an opinion on how to break out of his slump from goalie coach Bill Ranford.
“That’s something that Darryl (Sutter, the Kings’ head coach) has asked me to do throughout the playoffs,” said Ranford. “A big part of my job on off days is breaking down the other goalies.
“I talk to scorers. I try and give them my point of view from a goalie’s standpoint, what you look for, what ways you can freeze a goalie in order to have success.”
“He’s a very laid-back guy,” Ranford said of Quick. “He doesn’t let a lot bother him. He’s very competitive and that’s the attribute he brings, how competitive he is. He doesn’t like to lose. It’s black and white for him. It’s not about stats, it’s about winning and losing.”
Much praise has been heaped on Quick during the Kings’ amazing 11-1 run through the playoffs. But he was brought down to earth quickly — and maybe for the better, says Ranford — in Game 1 when Phoenix’s Derek Morris beat him with a slapshot from centre ice.
“After the game, we laughed about it,” said Quick. “What are you going to do? It was a tough bounce. I couldn’t have played it any differently. You move on from that. No different than any other goal that goes in.”
The goal didn’t rattle Quick; very little does. But Ranford saw a bright side to it.
“Maybe it was a little wake-up call, that you have to be ready from anywhere,” said Ranford. “Goals like that are going to happen. Just as long as it doesn’t happen again.”
Smith found himself under the spotlight following a loss in Game 2. He called out his teammates for not doing to Quick what the Kings were doing to him. He said later he was only being honest.
Burke got a lot of credit for salvaging Smith from the scrap heap, instilling in him the confidence he needed to rediscover the game he had earlier in his career.
“He’s such a good athlete, he’s such a competitive player, for him there was a couple of little adjustments technically,” said Burke. “Helping him believe that he can stop every shot, he’s good enough, he’s athletic enough and also he now understands the game.”
Burke and Ranford preach different styles. Burke was schooled by Benoit Allaire, the New York Rangers goalie coach and brother to Maple Leafs goalie coach François Allaire. Burke likes his goalies to stay in the blue paint.
“I don’t subscribe to the belief that the goalie didn’t have a chance on that goal,” said Burke. “Every shot, every play, you have a chance. There’s never been a goal scored where the goalie didn’t have a chance.
“With that philosophy, with our guys the message is: I want you to be in position to make every save. Whether you’re standup, butterfly, I want you in the area in the net — in the blue most of the time — a little bit deeper, because it doesn’t matter what happens, you have a chance to stop the puck.
It’s funny, said Ranford, how far the position of goalie coach has come in such a short time.
“There’s a lot of head coaches that don’t necessarily want to deal with goalies,” said Ranford. “If there’s somebody else who can do it for them, most guys are happy about that.”
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