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|Stanley Cup Final Notebook: Quick up to challenge|
|Written by Denis Gorman|
|Wednesday, 30 May 2012 03:40|
Jonathan Quick grew up a New York Rangers fan. Now, 18 years after watching his boyhood team dispatch the New Jersey Devils in the Eastern Conference Finals, he finds himself in the position to be able to do the same thing.Jonathan Quick has the opportunity to do what his boyhood team was able to do in the Eastern Conference Final.
Beat the New Jersey Devils, which is something Quick enjoyed seeing the New York Rangers do in 1994 growing up in Milford, Connecticut.
“I was rooting against Marty [Brodeur] then,” the Los Angeles Kings' goaltender said in response to a question about the iconic 1994 Eastern Conference Final between the Devils and the New York Rangers. “You know, obviously it's pretty cool playing against him. But, like I said earlier, it's about the teams. It's the Kings versus the Devils. It's not an individual sport, obviously.”
Quick routinely opted for a minimalist approach to questions about his play during his media availability at the Prudential Center on Tuesday afternoon.
Quick is arguably the frontrunner for the Conn Smythe Trophy entering Wednesday’s Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. He leads all playoff goaltenders in goals against average (1.54) and save percentage (.946). Quick is tied with Brodeur for the overall lead in wins (12) and his two shutouts trail just Henrik Lundqvist and Phoenix Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith.
“I wouldn't say I was stealing games,” Quick said. “I think it was a team effort. We're a great defensive club. We've done that well for years. So I wouldn't look at it as stealing games. My job's the same as it was in October, got to stop the puck. That's it. My job hasn't changed. I was always asked if there was more pressure. There wasn't. Just go do my job.
“You carry the weight for your teammates, that's really the weight you really carry. That's who you're playing for. So it would be nice to go back to Hamden [Conn.] with something to show everybody. But you play for your teammates.”
*****One of the subplots of this series is that Ilya Kovalchuk chose the Devils over the Kings when the superstar left wing was an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2010.
He is content with his decision nearly two years after signing a 15-year, $100 million free agent contract and one year after not making the playoffs in his first full season as a Devil.
“It wasn't a doubt in my mind,” Kovalchuk said when asked if at any point during the 2010-11 season if he wondered that he signed with the wrong franchise. “First of all, my family loves it here. We have a good house; my daughter in a good school [and] my two sons running around.
“[We are] fortunate with the good weather here. New York is close, too. We're happy. Last year was tough. But we sure it's pays off. We have a great coaching staff, great players here, and [a] great group of guys [who are] very close to each other. I think that makes a big difference.”
*****Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final is a resumption of labor for both the Kings and the Devils after a bit of a break following the Conference Finals. The Kings have not played since eliminating the Coyotes in Game 5 on May 22. New Jersey practiced for the first time yesterday after ending the Rangers’ season Friday night.
Neither coach seems overly concerned that his team will not be ready to play when the puck is dropped.
“You do so much video and all that stuff the last few days," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. "Not trying to kill you or overload you on it, but we have to stay in it and on it. The next step is tonight and tomorrow, the individual preparations. It's to get back into the compete part of it.”
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Photos by Getty Images