Just seven days ago, the San Jose Sharks were one game away from finishing off the Los Angeles Kings, taking a commanding 3-0 series lead. It certainly appeared as though the Kings were going to be gone in a hurry. Today, though, both teams woke up and began preparations for Game 7.
L.A. has made a complete turnaround, winning three straight in convincing fashion. What was once looking like a lopsided series is now down to a Game 7 nobody thought would be remotely necessary. The Kings have gone from planning offseason tee times to the verge of completing a historic 3-0 series comeback.
If Los Angeles pulls off the win tomorrow night, it would be the fourth time in NHL history a team has come back from being down 3-0 to win a series. The last time it occurred was in 2010, and the Kings don’t need to search far to find someone from that team to tell them all about pulling off a miracle comeback.
L.A. forward Mike Richards was a member of the Philadelphia Flyers when the team pulled off a stunning series win after falling behind 3-0 to the Boston Bruins (Kings center Jeff Carter was a Flyer then as well, but was out during the epic series). After losing 4-1 in Game 3, those Flyers slowly but surely crawled their way back into the series, eventually surprising everyone and forcing a Game 7. And then, despite falling behind 3-0 in the game, irony struck when the Flyers rallied again, scoring four unanswered for a 4-3 victory.
Now, Richards is back in the same situation just four years later. Almost everyone around the league figured he and the rest of the Kings would be back home by now. Instead, they have the once-dominant Sharks on the ropes despite the series returning to San Jose. And because L.A. has someone on their roster who can tell his fellow players all about what it takes to finish off a near-impossible comeback, they have no reason to believe they can’t do it themselves.
Richards has undoubtedly told his team, most likely after the Game 3 overtime loss, how winning a series by digging out of a 3-0 hole isn’t unthinkable regardless of how it looks on paper. He surely brought up stories of how his team handled things in Philadelphia when facing the same odds. How they need to take everything one game at a time. How a stunning comeback wouldn’t be easy, but it also wouldn’t be impossible.
It may be difficult to muster up a ton of optimism when you need to win four straight games to prevent being eliminated, but knowing it’s been done before has to amount for something. For the Kings, having Richards there to tell them just how exactly he and his team pulled off this kind of phenomenon is quite a boost for a club that badly needed one. And, for all we know, it could’ve gone a long way towards getting them to the position they’re in currently, and now Richards is just one game away from finishing off yet another comeback for the history books.