Third time's the charm?
As the Los Angeles Kings try once again to close out their series with the New Jersey Devils and win the Stanley Cup, the odds continue to be in their favor. Up 3-0 after last Monday night, the Kings were expected to close things out on Wednesday, then again on Saturday.
Tonight, they'll get another shot; and should they fail again, one final one on Wednesday night.
Of course, should New Jersey force a Game 7, the odds are then thrown out the window. The Devils are 10-1 in Games 4-7 this postseason and as one would suspect, after winning two straight -- including the only blemish on the Kings' road record -- confidence is high and growing. But New Jersey realizes the amount of work left to do if they're to make history.
"I don't see any reason why we should be overconfident or satisfied," said Devils captain Zach Parise.
"We're still down 3-2. We're still in the same spot. One loss, we're done. I think just having gotten a couple wins, we're playing with more confidence. But I don't think that makes us feel overconfident."
The Devils were left for dead after Game 3 as the hockey world prepared their coronations for the Kings. Sure, inside the New Jersey room they were keeping their heads and spirits high thinking "why not us?", but given how infrequent an 0-3 comeback has occurred in any sport, it only seemed eventual that the Kings would finally end it.
"I think the hockey world pretty much wrote us off, and I think we feel we've played with no pressure because of that," said Devils head coach Peter DeBoer. "I don't think that's changed because all of a sudden it's 3-2 now."
Los Angeles hasn't lost three in a row, or four in a row for that matter, since a four-game losing streak in late-February. It was their worst stretch since Darryl Sutter replaced Terry Murray as head coach in December. Goaltender Jonathan Quick himself hasn't lost three straight games since December, pre-Sutter. Meanwhile, the Devils won four in a row against the Philadelphia Flyers in Round 2, though they weren't facing elimination during each game like they are now.
"Through the playoffs, the team has gotten stronger I think every round as each series has gone deeper," said Devils forward Adam Henrique. "It shows again here. Obviously, you're in a hole, backs are against a wall really, but we just kept playing and we believed that we could do this, we could win."
Stanley Cup celebration thoughts might have slipped into the minds of some Kings players after storming out to a 3-0 lead, but any dreams of looking ahead were quickly put aside once New Jersey made this a series. Fans, family and friends of the Kings have been ready to uncork the champagne, but the team has been able to block out all of the outside hoopla.
"I think the mindset has to be, or is, the same thing as when a series starts: to try to win the game, not getting further than that," said Kings head coach Darryl Sutter. "Then it becomes a distraction or outside distraction. I think that's the key. That's something we've been able to do really well."
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy