SOCHI, Russia -- Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick, who made 22 saves against Slovakia to support Team USA’s Olympic-tournament-opening victory on Thursday, will start again when the U.S. faces Russia on Saturday in a much-anticipated game at the Bolshoy Ice Dome.
Quick, a man of many saves and few words, took the news from Coach Dan Bylsma with his typical calmness.
“Everyone prepares to play and everybody prepares to help the team win games,” he said after Team USA practiced Friday. “That’s why they pick three guys. I said it the other day, we have three good goalies. Every one of them is capable of giving their team opportunities to win games.
“I’m very fortunate to be in the position I am to play [Saturday]. You just go out there and try to play your best, help your team as much as you can and try to get a win.”
Quick, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the playoffs during the Kings 2012 Stanley Cup run, is no stranger to pressure.
The Kings were a low-scoring team that season, and he often worked with little margin of error. That pattern continued last season, when the Kings lost in the Western Conference finals to the eventual-champion Chicago Blackhawks, and has continued this season during the team’s prolonged scoring slump.
Although Quick’s U.S. teammates gave him ample offensive support on Thursday, Coach Dan Bylsma said he liked that Quick made key saves when the team needed them.
“He played real well in Game 1,” Bylsma said in explaining why he chose Quick over Ryan Miller for a second straight game.
“I thought there was periods of inactivity in that game and he had to stay sharp and stay focused, and it was followed by two or three big saves he had to make. I thought he played real well in the game.”
Quick said he can use his experience of playing under pressure to help him on Saturday against a powerful Russian team that will have the support not only of a sellout crowd but an entire nation.
“I’ve been fortunate to be on some good teams in the past where we played in some important, big games in other teams’ arenas. You expect it to be similar to that,” he said.
“I’m sure there might be a little more emotion just because you get the national pride. Same time, it’s a hockey game. It’s played within the walls. And you just try to help your team win a game.”
Playing a Russian team doesn’t have the same tension or mystique as playing the old Soviet teams, such as in the era of the 1980 “miracle on ice” U.S. Olympic team. Russian players are now free to play in the NHL, and many American players have Russian teammates. There’s little mystery to the Russians anymore.
But the game still has an allure because of the Russians’ remarkably high skill level and the test that will pose for Team USA.
“It still means a lot. You’re playing for your country. It means a lot,” Quick said. “Everybody’s looking forward to it. We can’t wait to play. It’s going to be a lot of fun. As soon as you step out, it’s all business and try to get the win.”
U.S. and Kings teammate Dustin Brown agreed that Quick doesn’t show much emotion outwardly, but said that’s simply Quick’s personality.
“He’s one of those guys, he just goes about his business,” Brown said. “Probably the best example of that is when he makes a big save. He’s not one of those goalies who swings his glove up or something. He just catches it and throws it back out, even if it’s a save he probably should have made. That translates off the ice to his demeanor.
“A big part of our team back in L.A. is his demeanor in net, that quiet cockiness. But underneath it all, he’s excited.”
“Yeah,” Brown said. “I’m positive.”
We’ll just have to take his word on that.