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."