Pregame Skate: Kings go for the sweep
With a win tonight the Los Angeles Kings will win the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history. And it would be 45 years to the day that they selected their first-ever player.
Forty-five years to the day they have an opportunity to win their very first Stanley Cup.
You know it's a big game when the Cup is in the building, and on Wednesday it will be there for the taking if the Kings can find a way to complete their second sweep of the postseason and defeat the New Jersey Devils for a fourth straight game.
If the Kings are able to do it on Wednesday, it will be the first sweep in a Stanley Cup Final since 1998 when the Detroit Red Wings demolished the Washington Capitals. That completed a four-year run where every Stanley Cup Final ended in a sweep (in '95 the Devils swept Detroit, which was followed by the Avalanche sweeping the Panthers and the Red Wings sweeping the Flyers).
Even though they're down 3-0 in the series and coming off a 4-0 loss on Monday, the Devils haven't gone away without a fight. They've been in these games, and even carried the play for long stretches during Games 2 and 3. Two games have gone to overtime, and even though the scoreboard may not have indicated it on Monday, they had their chances. They still weren't able to solve Jonathan Quick or the Kings defense before it all fell apart for them in the third period.
"You're in the Stanley Cup Final," said Devils coach Pete DeBoer. "I don't think there's a way of heightening the desperation level. We're down 3-0. I don't think we feel we deserve to be in the hole we're in. I think we played better than the situation indicates. But that's hockey. We have to persevere here and stick with it and find a solution."
The Kings' playoff record currently sits at 15-2, and even with that Kings coach Darryl Sutter still has his team striving for perfection.
"Just because you win, I said it several times, it doesn't mean you played great or you played perfect," said Sutter on Tuesday. "We won two games in overtime 2-1. If you lost one of them or lost them both, you're still looking at a huge battle. [Monday] night, I look at it real simply. We took a couple penalties in our own zone, an elbowing and a holding. Carts' [high stick] they're going to call that automatic, the four minutes. We aren’t going to get calls. Brodeur got a call and Quick didn't. We're not going to get one. Those are the challenges that we face. Hey, we could have easily been down 2-0 before we scored a goal [Monday] night."
The Kings haven't been perfect this postseason. But they've been about as close as a team has been (or can be) in the modern NHL. And now they're just one away from completing what has been to this point thoroughly dominating run.
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