New York Hockey: Jonathan Quick

W2W4: Rangers at Kings

October, 7, 2013
At a glance: The Rangers had a full three days to mull the disappointment of their season-opening 4-1 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes Thursday night and now it's back to work as they face the L.A. Kings Monday night at 10:30 in their second game of the season. Amid a daunting nine-game road trip to start the year, the Blueshirts have a tough week of hockey ahead as they play four games in six nights beginning with the 2012 Stanley Cup Champions.

Captain’s back: The big news for the Rangers, of course, is the return of captain Ryan Callahan, who is coming off shoulder surgery this summer. The 28-year-old winger, who missed Thursday’s game, is cleared to play and raring to go. His presence will provide the Rangers with some much needed grit and energy in the lineup; the team is already without one of their other top-six forwards in Carl Hagelin, who is also recovering from off-season shoulder surgery. Hagelin is on Long Term Injury Reserve.

Lineup change: Scratched for Thursday's game, rugged veteran Arron Asham returns to the lineup as it appears coach Alain Vigneault is opting for some more toughness. Making room for his return, the Rangers are expected to scratch Swedish rookie Jesper Fast. The 21-year-old swinger, who made the team out of training camp, was limited to 10:13 in Thursday's loss to the Yotes.

Killing time: Callahan's comeback will also be a significant coup for the team's penalty kill, which struggled on Thursday. The team gave up only one power-play goal but surrendered two goals soon after a penalty expired. Monday will be a tough test against the Kings, who are three for eight (37.5 percent) on the power-play in the first two games of the season.

Quick-sand: Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick did not have an ideal start to the season. The 2012 Conn Smythe Trophy winner was yanked from the team's 5-3 loss to Winnipeg Friday after giving up four goals on 27 shots, though coach Darryl Sutter said Quick was pulled because of "momentum."

Hockey Prospectus: 2013 Goalie Rankings

January, 14, 2013
Get ready to be riled up, Rangers fans.

Despite his 2011-12 Vezina Trophy-winning performance, Henrik Lundqvist is ranked second behind Los Angeles Kings netminder Jonathan Quick in Hockey Prospectus' 2013 projected goalie rankings.

Quick lost to Lundqvist in the Vezina race, but he took home the ultimate prize in leading the Kings to the Stanley Cup.

Who will finish on top this year?

A peek into HP's Top 10 right here. Insider

Rapid Reaction: Kings 6, Devils 1

June, 11, 2012

Recap | Box score | Photos

What it means: The Devils' season came to an end with a 6-1 loss to the Kings in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals on Monday night, and no one will feel worse about it than New Jersey fourth-liner Steve Bernier.

Bernier's first-period hit on defenseman Rob Scuderi led to a five-minute Kings power play that resulted in three goals in the span of 3:58. The Devils rallied back from a 3-0 series deficit to fuel their long-shot comeback hopes against the dominant Kings, but they couldn't recover from the spirit-sapping, three-goal hole at Staples Center.

Rookie Adam Henrique scored the Devils' lone goal, but the Kings scored twice more late in the third period for the first Stanley Cup in franchise history.

Bad move by Bernier: Bernier's reckless hit midway through the first period will likely go down as one of the most infamous moments in Devils history. The Kings went on to score three goals on the five-minute power play awarded after Bernier crushed Scuderi into the boards 10:10 into play and earned himself a five-minute boarding major and automatic game misconduct.

Kings captain Dustin Brown got his team on the board with a tip-in at 11:03 and Jeff Carter made it 2-0 with a deflection less than two minutes later. Trevor Lewis added a third goal for a 3-0 lead that sent the Staples Center crowd into a frenzy at 15:01.

Although he remained down on the ice for several minutes and left the game with a bloodied face, Scuderi returned to begin the second period.

Carter's coronation: Carter rattled off his second goal of the night with a wrister from the slot that beat Brodeur for a staggering 4-0 Kings lead at 1:30. The 27-year-old center, a crucial trade-deadline acquisition for the Kings in February, finished with eight goals during the dominant Cup run.

Captain America: Brown became the first American-born captain to win the Stanley Cup since Derian Hatcher hoisted the trophy for the Dallas Stars in 1999. Brown's power-play marker was his first goal of the series.

Long night for Brodeur: After outshining Quick in Games 4 and 5, Brodeur's phenomenal playoff performance came to a bitter end as the Kings poured on six goals in their Cup-clinching victory. According to ESPN Stats and Info, it was only the second time in his playoff career that he has surrendered three or more power-play goals.

Missed call: Only seconds before Bernier's game-changing hit, fellow fourth-liner Stephen Gionta got hammered into the bench by Jarret Stoll, a hit the Devils bench believed warranted a call. Stoll received no penalty on the play. The Devils also appeared livid that a collision between linesman Pierre Racicot and defenseman Anton Volchenkov interfered with play on Carter's second-period goal.

Fourth-line fallout: The Devils' heart-and-soul fourth line was the story once again, but for all the wrong reasons. With Bernier already tossed from the game, Ryan Carter was slapped with a two-minute roughing penalty and 10-minute misconduct for taking down Jonathan Quick during the second period. Later in the frame, Gionta was struck him in the face by Petr Sykora's shot, although he remained in the game.

W2W4: Game 6, Devils vs. Kings

June, 11, 2012

At a glance: Two times the Kings have had the chance to finish off the Devils and both times they have failed. After falling behind in a 3-0 hole, the Devils have recorded two straight wins to send the series back to Los Angeles and shift the pressure to the Kings for Game 6 on Monday night.

Can the Devils postpone the party once again?

Plenty of people wrote New Jersey off early in the series, but the Devils still feel they have unfinished business.

Said captain Zach Parise: “I don’t see any reason we should be over-confident or satisfied. We’re still down 3-2.”

Losing focus: Kings defenseman Drew Doughty openly admitted his team was guilty of looking ahead the last time they had a chance to clinch the Cup at home. He said the influx of family and friends was a distraction as they were looking to sweep in Game 4 at Staples Center. Doughty vowed that the Kings won’t make a similar mistake this time, calling it “a lesson learned.”

Brodeur at best: 40-year-old Martin Brodeur isn’t showing any signs of aging. The Devils veteran goaltender has seemed to find another gear in the playoffs -- and in the Cup final, especially. In a series where L.A.’s resident Vezina finalist Jonathan Quick has garnered most of the attention, Brodeur is stealing back the spotlight with some of his finest saves of the season. The three-time Cup winner has surrendered only two goals in the last two games.

More snarl to series: In a series that has been physical but otherwise pretty civil, things got a little nastier in Game 5. A post-whistle scrum even led one Kings player to pull Brodeur’s jersey over his head as tempers flared in the third period.

“When you play a team five times in a week-and-a-half, it’s going to get a little more heated,” Kings forward Mike Richards said Sunday.

Cooler heads: With the series tight at 3-2, discipline will be paramount for the Devils. New Jersey’s penalty-killing unit lost a bit of swagger early in the playoffs and almost paid dearly for it. The Devils have given up 19 goals in 73 times shorthanded (74%), compared with a staggering 89.6% success rate that led the league during the regular season.

If it ain’t broke: There will be no lineup changes for the Devils on Monday night, according to coach Pete DeBoer.

Gut-check time: Statistics can change on a dime this time of year -- Game 5 snapped both the Kings' 10-0 road record and the Devils' 0-for-15 power-play skid -- but the Devils want to keep an important one intact: They are 4-0 when facing elimination games this postseason.

Devils' power-play scores, finally

June, 10, 2012
In saddling the Kings with their first road loss this post-season, the Devils also dented LA”s stellar penalty-killing effort with their first power-play goal of the series.

Entering Game 5 without a man-up goal on 15 consecutive attempts, New Jersey finally capitalized on captain Zach Parise’s first goal of the series.

Parise cashed in after an uncharacteristic gaffe by Jonathan Quick, who mishandled the puck behind the net and was beat to the right post to surrender the game’s first goal 12:45 into play.

“For us to get the first goal, that's always big,” Parise said after the game. “I think every team plays better when they've got the lead. You can get the crowd going a little bit, get them excited. We were able to do that.”

Parise’s first-period marker also provided a boost to a struggling unit that has been unable to find the back of the net against a tenacious Kings penalty kill that, before Saturday, had given up only five power-play goals in 73 times shorthanded this playoff run.

“It was big because we obviously wanted to score first and also [because] it was a power-play goal,” said Travis Zajac, who plays with on the first unit. “I think we haven’t been struggling -- we’ve gotten some good looks on the PP -- but it was nice to finally crack that with that one.”

With a 2-1 lead late in the game, the Devils used two defenseman -- first Andy Greene and Marek Zidlicky, then Henrik Tallinder and Mark Fayne -- at the points instead of Ilya Kovalchuk manning the left with a defenseman on the right.

The Devils can only hope they will be in the same position -- with a lead to protect late in the game -- come Monday when they try to prevent the Kings from securing the Cup for the third straight game.

Rapid Reaction: Devils 2 , Kings 1

June, 9, 2012

Recap | Box score | Photos

What it means: Looks like we have a series.

Facing a daunting 3-0 deficit, the New Jersey Devils have now rattled off two straight wins against the Los Angeles Kings to force a Game 6 and keep their comeback hopes alive.

Held off the scoresheet in the first four games of the series, captain Zach Parise finally tallied a goal, and defenseman Bryce Salvador chipped in with one of his own for a 2-1 Devils win at Prudential Center on Saturday night.

Pulling within a game of the Kings, 3-2, the Devils sullied L.A.'s immaculate 10-0 road record and sent the series back to the West Coast for Monday's Game 6.

No team since 1942 has come back to win the Cup after falling behind 3-0, but the Devils are making their best attempt to become the second.

Captain comes through: Parise recorded his first point of the series with a power-play goal that gave the team a 1-0 lead in the first period. Jonathan Quick made a rare puck-handling miscue behind the net and Parise beat him back to the right post to stuff it in at 12:45. It was Parise's first goal since May 23 in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Rangers.

Power-play breaks through: Parise's first-period marker was also the Devils' first power-play goal this series. The Devils entered Saturday's match 0-for-15 with the man-advantage through the first four games against the Kings' stingy penalty-killing unit.

Second-chance stunner: After hitting the post in the first period, L.A.'s Justin Williams ripped a shot past Martin Brodeur to tie the score early in the second period.

Stellar saves: Dueling goaltenders Brodeur and Quick made a pair of tremendous stops within the span of 19 seconds early in the second period. With the game tied at 1, Brodeur stacked his pads to stop Jarret Stoll on a breakaway at 4:53. Quick answered at the other end with his best save of the night, kicking out his right pad to deny Travis Zajac's back-handed attempt at 5:12.

Victim Voynov: Salvador was credited with the Devils' go-ahead goal at 9:05 of the second after his shot appeared to deflect first off teammate David Clarkson, then Kings defenseman Slava Voynov. It was a tough break for the rookie blue-liner, who had a puck bounce off him for a Devils goal earlier in the series.

Sky-high: Despite Stoll's best attempt to sell what would’ve been the equalizer for the Kings at 11:16 of the second, his bat-the-puck-out-of-midair-goal was immediately waved off because of a high stick.

Devils' big guns on verge of breakthrough

June, 8, 2012

NEWARK, N.J. –- When asked by a reporter about the top line's recent production -- or lack thereof -- Devils captain Zach Parise quickly shot back:

"Who said we're not playing well?"

His answer may have struck some as defensive, and maybe it was, but it shows that Parise and his linemates feel that they are either shouldering some unfair criticism or are on the verge of breaking out.

Or maybe it's a little of both.

"I think we're playing fine," Parise said on Friday, one day before Game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals. "Just not scoring. If that's what you think [is] the difference between playing well and not playing well, that's your call."

The top trio -- comprised of Parise, center Travis Zajac and sniper Ilya Kovalchuk -- has managed only two points among them in the first four games, one of which was Kovalchuk's empty-netter goal in the Devils' 3-1 win in Game 4 Wednesday.

Jerry Lai/US PresswireIlya Kovalchuk and the Devils face their second consecutive elimination game.

While their contributions haven't been reflected on the score sheet, the team remains confident that will change soon.

"I think they're very close," coach Pete DeBoer said. "You just got to stick with it. It's frustrating. It's pressure. I mean, you guys talk to them on a daily basis. You write about that fact [that they're not scoring]. That's the pressure of playing at this point of the year. They recognize that.

"If they weren't getting chances, I'd be concerned," DeBoer continued. "They easily could have a couple goals each."

Parise and Kovalchuk managed four shots apiece on goal in Game 4, where an abundance of chances finally bore results against Vezina Trophy finalist Jonathan Quick, who has been unyielding as any goaltender this postseason.

That win -- the Devils scored three goals after managing only two in the first three games of the series -- might provide the traction needed to spur production and, ultimately, keep the Devils' comeback hopes alive. Saturday will be their second consecutive elimination game.

"I think we were creating more than we were in the first three games," Kovalchuk said. "I think we're forechecking better. We were in the right places. I think our power play was better. We shoot more pucks on net and create more momentum in the right direction."

Kovalchuk's empty-net goal, scored with 20 seconds remaining and a Devils win already wrapped up, was his first since the series finale against the Rangers in the Eastern Conference final May 25.

Might that be enough to get him, and his linemates, going?

"Empty-netters are the best goals because after you score them, it's almost 100 percent that you win the game, so we'll take them any day," Kovalchuk said. "But, it doesn’t really matter who scored. We feel like we played our best game so far in the series. We've got a lot of room to improve but I think we're in the right direction."

Notebook: Parise says ankle 'fine'

June, 7, 2012
NEWARK, N.J. -- Zach Parise says his left ankle is “fine.”

The Devils captain went into the boards funny and got his left skate caught during the third period of New Jersey’s 3-1 victory over Los Angeles in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals on Wednesday. He skated gingerly toward the bench, but didn’t miss any time.

“No,” Parise replied Thursday when asked if he was worried that his ankle might affect his game.

But even if you were, would you tell us?

“No,” Parise replied, smiling.

Parise has no points in the Stanley Cup finals so far. Linemate Ilya Kovalchuk has one -- and it came on an empty-net goal.

“We’re playing fine. It’s just pucks aren’t going in,” Parise said. “We’re getting good chances every game. Just unfortunately right now for whatever reason it’s not going in for us. I don’t think that we need to change anything about what we’re doing. We’re working hard. We’ve just gotta score and then we don’t have this conversation.”

Devils coach Peter DeBoer thought it was important for Kovalchuk and Patrik Elias to break though.

“We need guys to start scoring, and just like a win, you hope one goal translates into some confidence,” DeBoer said. “It can’t do anything but help everyone’s mindset.”

Must be the ‘stache.

Adam Henrique elected to shave prior to Game 4, keeping only his mustache.

“I’ve done it before in juniors,” Henrique said. “It’s worked before, so why not try it again.”

It ended up working again.

The 22-year-old rookie center scored his third game-winning goal of the playoffs with 4:29 left.

“It’s in his character and his ability to rise to the occasion, he’s not overwhelmed in situations when the game is on the line,” DeBoer said of Henrique. “He has that special quality. He wants to be on the ice. He wants to make a difference at those points in the game.

“We obviously wouldn’t be here without him.”

The Devils are 0-for-15 on the power play in the series, but DeBoer thought their man-advantage was much better in Game 4.

“I thought we had some really good looks,” DeBoer said, giving credit to Kings netminder Jonathan Quick. “You can’t get discouraged, you just gotta stay with it.”

Los Angeles has found success on the penalty-kill by aggressively pressuring the points .

“They pressure all over,” DeBoer said. “They’re very good with their pressure and the guys they use killing penalties are offensive players and dangerous guys, so I think that helps.”

DeBoer liked what he saw from Petr Sykora and Henrik Tallinder, who were both inserted into the lineup for the first time in the series.

“They gave us a real shot of energy,” DeBoer said.

Devils right winger Dainius Zubrus got his first-ever Stanley Cup finals victory in Game 4. He had been 0-7.

Zubrus said it was brought up in a conversation on the plane-ride home with Sykora, but he downplayed any significance given the 3-1 hole his team currently finds itself in.

Rapid Reaction: Kings 2, Devils 1 (OT)

June, 2, 2012

What it means: The Devils now face a daunting two-game hole after surrendering their second overtime loss this series. L.A.'s Jeff Carter tallied the game winner in the sudden-death session to give the Kings a 2-1 win and a 2-0 series lead with their 10th straight road victory.

Making history: Saturday marked the first time in 61 years that both Games 1 and 2 went into overtime. The last time it happened was in 1951, when all five games between the Leafs and Canadiens required extra time.

Carter comes through: With his fifth goal of the playoffs, Ryan Carter knotted the teams at 1-1 with his redirection of Marek Zidlicky at 2:59 of the third. Ryan Carter's equalizer was yet another triumph of the Devils' sensational fourth line, which has chipped in with 10 goals this postseason. Ryan Carter's linemate Stephen Gionta then leveled Colin Fraser in the neutral zone on the next shift to ignite a New Jersey crowd that was still buzzing from the tying goal.

Kovalchuk hurting: Held off the score sheet for the second straight game, Ilya Kovalchuk's ineffectual play begs the question: Is he injured? The 30-year-old sniper missed a game during the Devils' semifinals series against the Flyers with a back issue, and if his inconsistent production continues, speculation about his health will only continue. Kovalchuk had the chance to win it for the Devils late in the game but he sent the puck high off the crossbar with 14 seconds left in regulation.

Loading up: With his team scoreless after two periods, Devils coach Pete DeBoer tried to spark some life into his club by loading up the top line. DeBoer moved Kovalchuk up to play with Zach Parise and Travis Zajac to begin the third period.

Doughty dominates: Drew Doughty's Conn Smythe candidacy was fortified with a jaw-dropping play that gave the Kings a 1-0 lead in the first period. The elite puck-moving defenseman did just that, stickhandling past two Devils and using a third as a screen as he ripped a shot past Martin Brodeur at 7:49. Doughty now has three goals and nine assists for 12 points through 16 games for the Kings.

Best chance yet: The Devils’ best chance through the first 40 minutes came on a shorthanded rush with defenseman Andy Greene in the box for tripping. Zajac made a beautiful pass to set up Parise at the right post, but Parise missed the net wide on his backhanded redirection attempt at 9:52.

Flashing the glove: With Jonathan Quick frustrating the Devils at the other end, Brodeur was doing his best to keep his squad in the game. The 40-year-old veteran flashed the glove to make a couple nice saves in the middle frame, snagging Justin Williams' try at 2:47 then denying Dustin Penner with 7:23 left in the period.

Boo birds: Blanked on their fourth straight power play of the game, the Devils were rocked with a round of boos from the home crowd at Prudential Center during the second period. They have been held without a man-up goal on all six attempts this series.

Up next: Devils at Kings, Game 3 at 8 p.m. Monday.

W2W4: Devils vs. Kings

June, 2, 2012
At a glance: Too early to say a must-win for the Devils? Not really. New Jersey aims to tie the series against the Kings with a win at home before jumping on a cross-country flight to LA for Games 3 and 4. Meanwhile, the Kings try to keep their remarkable road record pristine with their tenth straight victory away from home. Game 2 from Prudential Center, Saturday at 8 p.m.

Road warriors: With a 2-1 OT win in Game 1, the Kings improved to a stunning 9-0 record on the road this playoffs. Of the two losses the Kings have surrendered in 15 total games, both came at home at Staples Center.

Been here before: The Devils aren’t fretting about being down a game to the Kings. New Jersey dropped the opener in both the semifinals against the Flyers and the conference finals against the Rangers and still managed to advance.

Stars not shining: After recording five points apiece against their hated division rivals, captain Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk were held off the score sheet on Wednesday. Parise managed three shots on goal against Kings netminder Jonathan Quick, Kovalchuk only one.

Lead the way: Kings captain Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar are tied for the team lead with 16 playoff points apiece and a plus-14 rating. Brown has 11 points (three goals, eight assists) in the last 10 games, while Kopitar has 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in the last nine, including the overtme winner in Game 1 vs. Martin Brodeur.

Precarious position: The Devils will be desperate to avoid the dreaded two-game hole -- one that only five teams have vanquished in the Stanley Cup Finals (although Boston managed such a rally against Vancouver just last year). New Jersey has advanced only once in franchise history – the conference semifinals against the Bruins in 1994 – after falling behind by 2-0.

Tallinder to appear in series?: Coach Pete DeBoer said there will be lineup changes for Game 2, but veteran defenseman Henrik Tallinder appears close to return. The 33-year-old Swede has not played since January because of a blood clot in his lower left leg but is available. The Devils confirmed he will travel to Los Angeles with the team for Games 3 an 4.

Killing time: The Devils top-ranked penalty-killing unit has lived up to its billing lately. New Jersey has not surrendered a power-play goal in four straight games, boasting a 7-for-7 success rate during that span.

Quick makes key saves as Kings prevail

May, 31, 2012
Bruce Bennett/Getty ImagesMartin Brodeur and Jonathan Quick will take the ice again on Saturday.
NEWARK, N.J. -- Some goaltenders might be fazed by having to match up with arguably the greatest netminder ever, Martin Brodeur.

Jonathan Quick isn’t one of them.

"I'm not looking to match him step for step," Quick said after making 17 saves in the Kings' 2-1 overtime victory over the Devils in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals on Wednesday night at the Prudential Center.

"I'm not looking to score on him. He's not looking to score on me. That's what our forwards and defensemen are for. I'm just trying to make saves and help my team win the game."

Quick, who improved to 13-2 in the playoffs with a 1.49 goals-against average and a .946 save percentage, wasn't tested often. But when he was -- save for a fluke goal by Anton Volchenkov late in the second period -- he was equal to the task. The 26-year-old has now posted 11 straight road playoff wins, the longest streak in NHL playoff history.

"The last series, I played in games where I'd see around 20 shots," Quick said. "I really didn't know what to expect coming into this game, seeing as how we hadn't played them in so long. But watching the Ranger games, they had anywhere from 40 shots to 20 shots against [Henrik] Lundqvist. I was just going shift by shift, and if the team needed me to, I just wanted to try and make the save."

In the first period, Quick made a brilliant save on Travis Zajac, and in the third he stopped Zach Parise and David Clarkson to help send the game into overtime and set up Anze Kopitar's heroics.

"Jonathan was great in net for us again," Kopitar said.

Rapid Reaction: Kings 2, Devils 1 (OT)

May, 30, 2012

Recap | Box score | Photos

What it means: L.A.'s Anze Kopitar made a pretty move to beat Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur on a breakaway and score the winner, giving the Kings a 2-1 overtime win and a 1-0 series lead in the Stanley Cup finals Wednesday night at Prudential Center.

While the Kings racked up another road win, the Devils open yet another series with a loss after a strange game that featured bad ice, weird bounces and a couple of demoralizing missed chances in the third period.

Easy review: Devils fans jeered, but the call to wave off a goal for New Jersey early in the third was the right one. After captain Zach Parise fanned on a chance with an open net, he tried sweeping the puck past Kings netminder Jonathan Quick on a second attempt 3:58 into play. The no-goal was reviewed and ultimately upheld.

Another open net: Mark Fayne will be haunted by a glimmering opportunity missed midway through the third that could've given his team a go-ahead goal. With the game tied, the Devils defenseman shot a bouncing puck wide of an open net.

All tied up: With 1:12 remaining in the second period, the Devils pulled even with Anton Volchenkov's first goal of the 2012 playoffs, originally credited to Devils veteran Patrik Elias. Volchenkov's shot appeared to deflect off Kings defenseman Slava Voynov for the equalizer. Before earning the primary assist on Volchenkov's marker, Elias entered Wednesday's match having been held off the scoresheet in seven of the previous eight contests.

Depth scoring: With both teams boasting impressive offensive depth, the Kings drew first blood with a goal from their fourth line. Kings winger Jordan Nolan forced the puck from Andy Greene behind the net and dished the puck to find Colin Fraser at the right circle for a 1-0 Kings lead at 9:56 of the first period.

Quick-silver: Quick faced only five shots in the first frame and robbed Travis Zajac from the slot at 13:07 on the period's only power play. New Jersey's David Clarkson also missed the net on two high-quality chances.

Slow second: Quick didn't have to do too much work in the second, either. The Devils didn't register a shot on goal until 14:30 minutes into the period, when Parise was credited with one as he drove to the net on a short-handed attempt. The Devils finished the game with 17 shots. According to ESPN Stats and Information, the franchise record for fewest shots in a home playoff game is 14 (Game 5, Eastern Conference quarterfinals in 2007).

Up Next: Game 2, Devils vs. Kings, 8 p.m. Saturday.

W2W4: Devils vs. Kings, Game 1

May, 30, 2012
At a glance: A Devils-Kings matchup was one that few would’ve predicted at the outset of the 2011-12 season, but the two teams meet in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals on Wednesday. The Devils host the eighth-seeded Kings at home in Newark, aiming to put L.A. in a hole for the first time this postseason while the Kings try to shake off the cobwebs from a long wait between series.

Lengthy layoff: Having lost only two games through the first three rounds of the playoffs, the Kings are anxious to get back on the ice after an eight-day layoff from game action.

“The layoff's nice with regards to rest, but I think most players are ready to play,” said Kings captain Dustin Brown.

Quick shot: The Devils insist they’re not daunted by the task of facing Vezina Trophy candidate Jonathan Quick. The 28-year-old goaltender has had a stellar postseason with a league-leading 1.54 goals against average and .954 save percentage, but the Devils already beat one of the league’s best, Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist, in the Eastern Conference finals.

"I don't think anyone in here is worried that he can't beat Jonathan Quick, or that he's going to stand on his head and beat us," New Jersey’s Ryan Carter said.

Captains America: For the first time in NHL history, two American-born captains will compete against each other in the Stanley Cup finals. Regardless of whether L.A.’s Brown (Ithaca, N.Y.) or New Jersey’s Zach Parise (Minneapolis) is the last one standing, the winner will be the first U.S.-born captain to lift the Cup since Derian Hatcher secured the championship with Dallas in 1999.

Fear the forecheck: Both teams feature a formidable forecheck that has overwhelmed opponents this postseason. “I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the last two teams playing are that style,” Parise said.

Full circle: Drafted by the Devils in the eighth-round (199th overall) of the 1996 draft, Kings veteran defenseman Willie Mitchell aims to bring his career full circle against his former team. The 35-year-old spent three years in the Devils' system before he was traded to Minnesota in 2001.

Gag-ne order: Injured Kings forward Simon Gagne (concussion) has been cleared for contact, although coach Darryl Sutter declined to elaborate further on his status. The 32-year-old winger has not played since Dec. 26.

"The answer is the same and I don't know how to answer it, right? You tell the truth or don't say nothing,” Sutter said.

Parise mum on free agency: Could a Devils Stanley Cup victory be enough to convince Parise to stay? The 27-year-old winger, set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, declined to address his status at media day on Tuesday. “I’m not answering any questions about free agency,” he said.

Devils not fazed by Jonathan Quick

May, 30, 2012

The New Jersey Devils already disposed of one Vezina Trophy candidate this playoff run, and beginning Wednesday in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals they will face another in 28-year-old Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick.

With his league-leading 1.54 goals against average and .954 save percentage, Quick has carried the eighth-seeded Kings to within four wins of the Cup. After being shut out twice by Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist in the first three games of the conference finals, the Devils aim to solve Quick sooner.

"With Lundqvist, we needed to get one by him just to start feeling good about ourselves. We got shut out twice in three games. In Game 4 we got a couple past him early and then you just feel more confident shooting," captain Zach Parise said. "The one thing you don't want to do when a goalie's playing well is look for the perfect shot or try to pass up perfect opportunities. We have to make sure with Quick that we put a lot of pressure on him."

While there is respect for what Quick has done during the regular season and playoffs, the Devils won't be intimidated.

"I don't think anyone in here is worried that he can't beat Jonathan Quick, or that he's going to stand on his head and beat us," Devils' fourth-line forward Ryan Carter said. "We're a confident group, and if we play well, I think we're going to put their goaltender in a situation where he has to think about how he's going to stop pucks."

Carter said the offensively-opportunistic Devils won't deviate from the plan that has gotten them this far. Playoff hockey clearly isn't a time to pick corners.

"It seems this time of year that the recipe for success in goal-scoring isn't a secret," Carter said. "Get in front of him, make it difficult for him to see, battle their guys in front of him and try to get to the second and third pucks and the power play."

Although New Jersey faced L.A. just twice this year, Devils defenseman and ex-King Peter Harrold has gone against Quick enough in practice over the years that he knows it's all but futile to try and exploit a weakness.

"You try to get in his head maybe, but he's a talented guy and I'm not certain that's possible," Harrold said of his former teammate. "It's our job to fight to get pucks through on him."