The Los Angeles Kings knew that winning their first Stanley Cup in franchise history wasn’t going to be easy. Yet the first three rounds of the postseason posed little challenge to the boys in black and white. The Kings upset the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Vancouver Canucks in five games, swept the St. Louis Blues and ran roughshod in five games over the Phoenix Coyotes.
The Kings then continued their dominance over the New Jersey Devils in the Stanley Cup Final.
That is, through the first three games.
The Kings had a comfortable 3-0 lead and were one game away from capturing hockey’s holy grail. But then the New Jersey Devils spoiled the party with a 3-1 victory in Game 4. The Devs then really put the pressure on the Kings by coming up with 2-1 win in Game 5.
Once again, the Devils will be the ones facing elimination in Game 6, but is the pressure now on the Kings to finally close out the series without having to go to a Game 7?
Devils coach Peter DeBoer thinks so.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt about that,” DeBoer said. “People expected this to be over two games ago. So the fact that we’re in the spot we’re in, I don’t think there’s any hiding from that pressure.”
DeBoer is just playing mind games, but he probably doesn’t have to. The Kings, especially their big guns—Kopitar, Brown, Carter, Richards—were invisible the last two games. And now that the Devils have created a chink in the armor of the Kings, they feel they have them on the ropes.
“It’s just the situation right now. We’re running out of games here and the stakes are getting that much higher,” said Devils defenseman Bryce Salvador. “Obviously, L.A. would’ve liked to have closed it out by now. When you have someone on the ropes, you don’t want to let them off the ropes. I think from the standpoint, there’s probably a little frustration setting in.”