The two sides are set to duel in Hollywood on Monday night, in a game that will either see the Kings hoist their first Stanley Cup in franchise history or allow the Devils to come within a game of making a different kind of history which LA would prefer not to be a part of.
It’s one of the toughest things to do in sports, coming down from a 3-0 deficit. That’s obvious, given how few teams have done it. But it has been done (Philadelphia Flyers in 2010 playoffs) and nearly done (Chicago Blackhawks in 2011) in recent years. The pressure is all on the Kings to put a stop to any of that talk on Monday night.
The Kings lost their first road game of this postseason on Saturday night, and just their fourth game of the Stanley Cup Playoffs overall. Their 10 wins away from Staples Center had them tied for the NHL record for road wins in a playoff season, a mark held by these New Jersey Devils. Now they’ll attempt to win the Cup on home ice, something every franchise would likely prefer to do anyway.
When you go down 3-0 in a series, few are expecting anything. When you’re down and you win one, those expectations stay about the same. When you win two, as the Devils have, things get interesting.
It’s not as if these games have been a pair of drubbings that the Devils handed the Kings. Both were tightly contested affairs, with the Devils barely edging the Kings out on the scoreboard. But the Devils are bringing a desperate, physical game to the ice and are in the collective heads of the Kings right now.
Luckily for the Kings, they get a chance to clinch their first Cup at home. That will energize them some. But the pressure is on right now. We know Jonathan Quick is going to show up. The big names up front are going to have to show up. LA is going to have to respond to the physical game of the Devils. Even having lost two in a row, I have a hard time seeing the Kings dropping a third to the Devils.
If they do, though, watch out. A Game 7 in New Jersey could be tough even for the Kings to pull off.