Jonathan Quick stands out with Kings on verge of Cup
Henrik Lundqvist not only is the Rangers' rock but also their rock star, a debonair man about town who embraces life as a celebrity and media magnet off the ice in addition to delivering on it.
Jonathan Quick, his counterpart in the Stanley Cup Final? Not so much. He prefers to speak softly when he is not carrying his big goalie stick.
But even if he cannot match Lundqvist quote for quote -- or designer suit for designer suit -- he certainly can match him save for save, as he has proved throughout the Final and did most emphatically in Game 3 Monday night.
Quick was brilliant in the Kings' 3-0 victory at Madison Square Garden, making 32 saves and leaving the Rangers on the edge of elimination. After entering the series looking a bit shakier than he was during the Kings' 2012 Stanley Cup run, he gave Devils fans flashbacks to that year's Final in flummoxing the Rangers.
When it was over, his teammates lined up to praise him.
Marian Gaborik: "He was the cornerstone."
Dustin Brown: "He allowed us to win the game."
Drew Doughty: "He made some great saves, saves he had no business making."
Kyle Clifford: "He's our backbone, and he saved us half the time."
Rangers coach Alain Vigneault had no quarrel with that, saying Quick "was obviously the best player on the ice."
Quick, 28, grew up in Milford, Connecticut, as a Rangers fan. He is a son-in-law of former Ranger Mike Backman and brother-in-law of former Islander Matt Moulson.
But until Monday night, he hadn't appeared in an NHL game at the Garden. He once played there between periods as a "Pee Wee Ranger" when he was 12. On Monday night, he looked all grown up.
It began early, when he stuffed Carl Hagelin and Ryan McDonagh on wraparound attempts in the first five minutes.
Later in the first period, he dived to redirect the puck at the last possible moment as Mats Zuccarello tried to punch it into an open net after getting it caught up in his skates.
The Rangers' assault continued in a frantic second period. He stopped a long shot from Brad Richards, then left Derick Brassard in shock when he thwarted him on the rebound.
His final noteworthy victim in the second was Rick Nash, who barreled toward the net for a promising scoring chance but could not slide the puck through.
Ten seconds into the third, he stopped Chris Kreider on a quick rush. The final result mostly was a formality from there.
When asked to explain it all, Quick offered little insight, saying, "You just make one save at a time and try to get ready for the next one."
Can he start to taste his second Stanley Cup? "Nope."
What did it mean to him to win so close to his childhood home against his favorite childhood team? "It meant a playoff hockey game. We were trying to win a hockey game."
While Quick does not have many of the gifts Lundqvist has, he does have one thing Lundqvist wants: his name on the Stanley Cup, secured when he went 16-4 with a 1.41 goals-against average and three shutouts in 2012.
Entering Game 3, he had not been quite as steady in the 2014 postseason, with a 14-9 record, a 2.80 goals-against and one shutout. But his coach and teammates remain fiercely loyal to him.
Coach Darryl Sutter bristled before Game 1 at the notion that Quick had not been his usual self this spring. He urged everyone to keep in mind his body of work.
Said Sutter: "I tell Jonathan all the time: You pick a goalie in one game, I want Jonathan Quick."