Western Conference teams and their surrogates are always quick to note the geographic advantages of some Eastern Conference teams.
The New Jersey Devils, for example, didn't have home ice in either the conference semifinals or final; but they also didn't have to head to the airport for either of them, taking buses to Philadelphia and New York.
You know your playoffs are geographically advantageous when opposing fans are doing more flying than you are.
That all changes for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final, as the Devils took a flight for the first time since Game 7 against the Florida Panthers (April 26), heading to Los Angeles for Monday night's tilt.
"We're pretty fortunate for two series not to get on a plane, going on a bus to Philly, a bus to the Rangers," said defenseman Andy Greene. "It feels good to get back into this routine a little bit, get on the road, kind of get away from home, get back to being just focused on the single thing, the game. … When you're on the road, there's a lot less distractions, a lot of less things to worry about. I think it will be a big plus for us tonight."
Said forward David Clarkson: "It was nice when we got on that plane as a team, flew together, joked around a little bit, getting ready for what's ahead of us."
Complicating matters for the Devils: The 5 p.m. start time locally, on top of having to adjust their delicate East Coast internal clocks to the Pacific time zone.
"We came in yesterday. We flew. We practiced. We had a later dinner. You try to keep the guys up until 10 or 11 o'clock, if you can," said Coach Pete DeBoer. "That's the advice. I don't know if it's realistic, but you want to get on L.A. time as quickly as you can. That's our thought process."
The Kings, meanwhile, got out of Newark at 1 a.m. the morning after Game 2.
No lineup changes for the Devils against the Kings in Game 3, down 0-2 to LA. The good news for Jersey: The Kings' only two losses of the postseason have come on home ice. The bad news: They've only lost twice this postseason. Sick.