In their last series, the New Jersey Devils faced a Vezina Trophy-nominated goaltender with a sterling reputation in the midst of a fantastic regular season and post-season. That goalie shut them out in two of the first three games before New Jersey eventually got to him, taking four of the last five to win the Eastern Conference Final over Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers.
Heading into the Stanley Cup Finals, the Devils now will do battle against Jonathan Quick, a goaltender who has developed a sterling reputation of his own, after going 12-2 on the Kings' way to the Finals. However, the Devils took on Lundqvist six times and constantly spent the regular season and playoffs hearing about him in the New York media.
New Jersey hasn't faced Quick since October, and with the Kings out on the west coast, playing most of their games past 10 p.m. ET, are the Devils maybe not as affected by the Los Angeles netminder's reputation as they would have been with Lundqvist?
"He's pretty much been the talk of the last couple days" Devils captain Zach Parise said. "So if we didn't know much about him before, we do now."
Parise, however, doesn't deny that there are some resemblances between Quick and his counterpart in New York.
"Similar to Lundqvist, they both have had great seasons, and you gotta' make it hard on them."
Still, the fact remains: The Devils scored three goals in the first three games against the long-heralded Lundqvist and were shutout twice in that span. In the final three games of the series, they scored 10 on Lundqvist and won all three games. The Kings are a little more aggressive than the Rangers in terms of forecheck, and it might not be so easy to climb out of holes as it was against New York.
"When you get to the Conference Finals, every team has a great goalie," said forward Patrik Elias. "These guys have been playing great hockey, and they don't get scored on much."
On Quick in particular, Elias is impressed but feels the Devils can beat him.
"He's been solid for them. We know that some of the things that maybe we can exploit. Anytime you can have traffic in front of a goalie that's gonna' make it difficult for them."
Head coach Pete DeBoer echoed these sentiments and compared New Jersey's efforts to get to Quick to how they ended up beating Lundqvist.
"You have to get traffic, bodies, shots," DeBoer said. "You can't get frustrated. Lundqvist shut us out the first two [out of three] games of that series despite, I thought, a pretty significant territorial edge on our part. We stuck with it. We got rewarded for taking that approach against Lundqvist. We have to do the same thing here."
Stick with SB Nation's dedicated NHL hub for full Stanley Cup Finals coverage. For more on the New Jersey Devils, check out Devils blog In Lou We Trust. For more on the Los Angeles Kings, check out Jewels From The Crown and SB Nation Los Angeles.