6/8/2012 12:02:09 PM
Then again, most teams don't bring with them the longest road winning streak
in NHL playoff history.
While Los Angeles did in fact leave the door open in their Stanley Cup Finals
series with the New Jersey Devils thanks to a disappointing Game 4 setback,
the Kings aren't that worried about having to hit the road one more time in
their march to a championship.
After all, the Kings have already set league records by winning all 10 of
their road games in this postseason and 12 straight as the guest dating back to
last year's playoffs. And should they clinch their first championship on
Saturday night in New Jersey, Los Angeles will set another record for the
most road playoff victories in one year.
Fittingly, it was the Devils who first established the mark in 1995 and
matched it five years later.
It's not like the Kings expected to pull a sweep anyway and head coach Darryl
Sutter knows what his team has to do in Game 5.
"Continue to play the way we're playing," he said during Thursday's off day.
"That's why you play series. Unfortunately, we have some spoiled people that
think that everyone wins 16 in a row or something. A little confusing to me."
Sutter has likely grown frustrated with having to answer questions about his
team's inability to initially finish off their opponent. All three of Los
Angeles' losses this postseason have come in Game 4, including a first-round
defeat to Vancouver and a setback to Phoenix in the conference finals.
Each time, the Kings have bounced back to win on the road.
"I think we just play every road game the way we have throughout the season
here, throughout the playoffs. We just don't let any distractions bother us.
We go in, we play our game," said Kings forward Justin Williams. "We know
the Prudential Center's going to be rocking, just like when we had to go back
to Phoenix and play Game 5, go back to Vancouver and play Game 5. The arena's
are going to be rocking and we'll have to be ready for them."
If there is one cause for concern, it's the Kings needed overtime to win the
first two games of this series in New Jersey. One bounce the other way, and it
could have been the Kings heading back to the Garden State looking to stave off
Los Angeles, though, is on the cusp of its first-ever Stanley Cup title thanks
to goaltender and likely Conn Smythe Trophy winner Jonathan Quick. He has
posted an outstanding 1.39 goals against average and .929 save percentage in
Quick made 21 saves on 23 shots in Wednesday's loss, but once again frustrated
the Devils' power play. New Jersey went 0-for-3 on the man advantage in Game 4
and is 0-for-15 in the series.
Both of the goals Quick allowed in the previous game came in the third period
after he had given up just one third-period marker over the previous nine
contests. The first goal Quick yielded came on a rebound from a point shot,
though the 26-year-old would probably have liked to have the second one back,
a stoppable shot from Adam Henrique from the left circle.
Expect Quick to be extra focused on Saturday.
"Elimination games, I don't know, the teams you play against are there for a
reason," Williams said. "It's not supposed to be a sweep all the time. You're
not supposed to win every game. That's when their character comes out, when
their backs are against the wall. They played a great game, battled hard. We
just didn't quite have enough."
Home may be where the heart is, but the party for the Kings may get started in