So much has changed around Jonathan Quick this postseason.
But with Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final against the New York Rangers set for Wednesday at Staples Center, his approach remains the same.
As the defense-minded Kings have been confronted in the playoffs by three of the Western Conference's top four scoring teams, they adjusted with a more offensive effort, increasing their regular-season scoring average by nearly a full goal.
That left Quick more vulnerable to the odd-man rushes and wide-open hockey the Kings usually prevented in the regular season, when they gave up the fewest goals in the NHL.
"There's times we haven't played our best and left him hung out to dry," Kings defenseman Alec Martinez said, with playoff opponents scoring an average of 2.86 goals per game against Quick. His regular-season average was 2.07.
But such turbulence hasn't distracted Quick from winning.
"With big saves at the right time, he's been huge for us," Kings goaltender coach Bill Ranford said. "Look at all three series. When we've needed him, he's there."
In Game 7 of the conference finals at defending champion Chicago, the Kings answered a 2-0 deficit with two goals. Then, 12 seconds later, a shot by Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp took a bad bounce off the ice and found its way past Quick.
"A large number of goalies collapse after that one," Ranford said. "His mental capabilities to forget have been unbelievable in this playoff run."
Quick stopped 33 of Chicago's next 34 shots, including a point-blank shot in the final seconds of regulation, helping the Kings to a 5-4 overtime win.
"Just because it's a Game 7 … if you give up a couple goals, or a weird bounce, because of your preparation all year and throughout your career, you should be the same and handle it the same as any situation," Quick said Tuesday during Stanley Cup media day at Staples Center.
Quick stared down a team-wide meltdown that saw him pulled in Game 1 of the first-round series against San Jose, when the Sharks scored 17 goals in the first three games.
Quick's response: only two goals allowed in the final three games of the rally from a three-games-to-none hole.
"When he's on, he makes saves that you don't really expect," Rangers center Brian Boyle said. "He's pretty acrobatic and ... they feed off that. He can bail them out."
Against the Ducks in Game 7, he stopped Anaheim goals leader Corey Perry with a poke-check on a penalty shot, providing momentum that led to a rout.
Similarly against Chicago, Quick gloved a wide-open Brent Seabrook shot that would have given the Blackhawks a 3-0 lead in Game 2, and the Kings responded with the next six goals and a run of three wins.
"You just try to make the next save," Quick said when asked how he responds to giving up goals. "I don't think that [Seabrook] moment was any different than all season, all playoffs.
"Whether it's Game 7 or a game in December … if you're not approaching those games in December like you approach [playoff games], you're leaving your team short, no? Every time, you prepare as if you're going to give everything you can. The repetition of that … you do that enough throughout the regular season, that gets you to the postseason, and because you've prepared for those games, it gives you a little advantage in this time of the year."
In the opposing net for the team Quick watched as a child in Connecticut will be Henrik Lundqvist. The Rangers goalie knows his adversary's work.
"He's extremely aggressive, like a gymnast out there," Lundqvist said.
Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh, who was a teammate of Quick on the U.S. Olympic team, said the goalies are comparable.
"You don't see [Quick] get rattled very much," McDonagh said. "Just gets ready for the next faceoff. Very similar in that aspect of just letting things go quickly."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun