MANCHESTER, N.H. - What should be a fun summer of celebration was put on hold for goalie Jonathan Quick and Los Angeles Kings after a plucky performance from the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday.
The Devils 3-1 victory at the Staples Center extended the Stanley Cup final to a Game 5 back in Newark on Saturday and delayed what seems to be inevitable - the Kings being crowned as NHL champions for the first time in their 45-year history.
It's difficult to single out a key player on the Kings because they have such a balanced attack and receive contributions from all corners of their roster. But Quick has been the most consistent and biggest reason why Los Angeles is one win away from the title.
Quick is a competitor on the ice, but stone-faced stoic off the ice when reporters gather around him in the dressing room trying to unearth some morsel about what makes this mysterious man tick.
About the only time he has given a glimpse of what this hoodie-wearing future Conn Smythe Trophy winner is about was the other day when he revealed as a kid growing up he had a poster of New York Rangers goalie Mike Richter hanging in his bedroom.
Quick was eight years old when Richter and the Rangers won the Stanley Cup in 1994. He remembers watching the Game 7 finale in his Connecticut home. He remembers being drawn to Richter because of how he battled, how he seemed to do anything to keep the puck out of the net.
Quick plays with the same intensity. He's an extremely flexible and aggressive athlete, and bounces around the crease with a competitiveness often exhibited by goalies with unorthodox styles. Think Tim Thomas, Dominik Hasek and Martin Brodeur in his heyday.
But what is Quick really like behind that mask? To help us, we enlisted the services of his brother-in-law, New York Islanders sniper Matt Moulson.
"The biggest question I get asked these days is, what is Jon really like," Moulson said. "He's a competitor. I know he's real quiet with you guys, but I see a real down-to-earth guy. I see a great Dad, a good friend and a good person.
"The side you see is his competitive side. He doesn't like to tip his hand. But he's not this complex guy that he's made out to be. He's just a nice guy who is driven to win.
"He is a goalie, so he is a little weird."
The 26-year-old Quick and Moulson, 28, met four years ago at Kings training camp. Quick was a first-year pro. Moulson was in his second season in the Kings system. They both landed in Manchester, N.H., for most of 2007-08 and wound up being close friends.
They would end up marrying sisters, Jaclyn and Alicia Backman. The Backman sisters and their family were good friends of the Quicks. Brett and Sean Backman both play hockey. Their father, Mike, is from Halifax.
Mike played for Rangers in the early 1980s and coached Jonathan as a teenager. Sean played this past season for the Islanders AHL team in Bridgeport, Conn. Quick's wife Jaclyn played collegiate hockey at Merrimack.
Quick introduced Moulson to Alicia a few years ago, cementing the fact that Quick and Moulson will be lifelong friends.
"This has been a pretty crazy time for our families," Moulson said. "This is an eighth-seeded team that is doing this. He's providing the Kings with good goaltending.
"Jonathan has played great the whole year. Nobody is more deserving for this success than him."
Moulson, a native of Mississauga, Ont., moved to the Islanders three seasons ago and has authored his own success story with back-to-back-to-back 30-plus goal campaigns.
There are no trade secrets between Moulson and Quick, but they do spend summers together and they hit the gym together pushing each other to greater heights.
"Obviously, we became closer when we started dating sisters," Moulson said. "When I first met him in Manchester, what I saw was a naturally skilled goaltender who competes, who is acrobatic, an athlete who never gives up on the puck.
"He works extremely hard. He wants to be the best. I've known for a long time that he was going to be a great goalie and with this [playoff run] he has shown the rest of the world."
Moulson (Lady Byng) and Quick (Vezina) will both be up for major NHL awards next week in Las Vegas.
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