By Julian Linden
NEW YORK (Reuters) - As the last line of defense for the Los Angeles Kings, goalie Jonathan Quick is used to being in the firing line, both on and off the ice.
During a marathon run of playoff games that has seen his team play the maximum seven games in all three series en route to the Stanley Cup Final, Quick has been routinely pounded by his opponents on the rink and slammed by his critics off it.
Statistically, this has not been Quick's best postseason. He has allowed an average of 2.80 goals per game and saved just over 90 percent of the shots he has faced, leaving him ranked ninth and eighth, respectively, among goalies.
His statistics are well below the brilliant numbers he had two years ago when he won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player during the playoffs after helping the Kings win the National Hockey League's Stanley Cup championship.
But the 28-year-old has been as reliable as ever when it matters, making all the crucial blocks when he needed.
"Numbers can be construed either way. You can bend a story any way you want," said Los Angeles winger Justin Williams. "When push comes to shove, Jonathan Quick, just like everyone else on our team, I feel is able to relish an opportunity."
Quick has been under intense pressure throughout the entire playoffs with the Kings needing to come from three games down to win their first round series over the San Jose Sharks.
They went the distance in the second round against the Anaheim Ducks and again in the Western Conference Finals with the Chicago Blackhawks, with the decider going to overtime.
"It's a pretty good feeling as a player to know we have Quicky back there," said Kings center Jeff Carter. "We know he's got our back. We know what he's capable of."
Quick gave up two early goals in Game One of the Stanley Cup Final against the New York Rangers but saved the last 15 shots he faced as the Kings rallied to a 3-2 overtime win.
He conceded four goals in Game Two, but then turned away the final 17 shots that were fired at him as the Kings won 5-4 in double overtime to take a 2-0 lead in the series.
"He's a confident goaltender," said Los Angeles winger Kyle Clifford, who threw a scare into the Kings camp last week when Quick stopped one of his shots during practice in the throat area before leaving the ice in discomfort.
"We have a lot of confidence in him. We know he's going to make a couple big saves every night for us."
(Editing by Frank Pingue)