So the Kings have utilized the excuses and the alibis, and now openly admit there were distractions in the first two games in which they had chances to win the Stanley Cup.
Thats all well and good for a young team thats still figuring out what it takes to ultimately hoist that Cup over their heads, but even the buxom Taylor Stevens shouldnt be able to distract Los Angeles in Game 6.
This is LAs game to win, and if they dont then theyre going to be in all kinds of trouble headed back to Jersey for a potential winner-take-all Game 7 on Wednesday night. Mike Richards has been through the Cup Finals experience before, but has never come out on the winning side. He was one of LAs better players in a Game 5 that saw many of their best players (Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown) get weighed down by a Devils defense and their own expectations.
But even Richards admitted that Kings players have done a little too much imagining about their Cup moments before actually securing that fourth win against the Devils.
"Maybe. It's something that you have to handlesomething you have to go through, said Richards, who had the last big shot that Marty Brodeur stopped during a last minute flurry in the third period of Game 5. Obviously we would have liked to have won one of the last few games, but we're in a situation where we can still be better.
We have to be better to beat their team because it seems like they're getting better, too. We just have to bring our best game in Game 6.
Several Kings players mentioned the distraction of family and friends in Los Angeles that wanted to be in attendance for Game 4 and were ready to celebrate if the Cup moment was on hand. Those are the kind of real life distractions every pro athlete faces in the big moments that most outside the dressing room dont spend much time thinking about.
We don't want any distractions. I think a lot of us before Game 4 were distracted with family members and friends, the Cup coming in the building, said Doughty. A lot of things we have to put aside.
Family always comes first for everyone, but at this point of the year, the team has to come first. We're a family in the room and on the ice. Right now we're number one in everyone's mind.
The shining beacon of hope for the Kings: They have not yet played as well as they can in the Cup Finals against the Devils. The first few games appeared to have a level of rust as Los Angeles hadnt played in eight days, and now New Jersey is once again gaining momentum as they gain familiarity with their opponent. Jonathan Quick was excellent before faltering early in Game 5, and Anze Kopitar picked his spots before Jeff Carter, Richards and Dustin Penner factored largely into the middle portion of the series.
Drew Doughty has been close to dominant throughout the series, and the Kings grit players have shown up in every game.
But the entire team hasnt been powering the bus in any of the games during the series. There have been LA passengers. For example Kopitars no show in Game 5 where he was no more than a forceless phantom on the ice.
That cant happen with 60 minutes of good hockey separating hunger from elation.
We've lost a few in a row, but we could have easily won those two games, too. The Cup is going to be in the building again for Game 6. I think that's enough motivation.
At this point of the year, you don't feel the bumps and bruisesyou don't get tired. You have so much adrenaline running through your body; you want it so bad that you just put it all aside.
With the Kings 0-2 when the Stanley Cup has been polished and ready in the building, perhaps Los Angeles GM Dean Lombardi can make a call to Peggy to make sure that the Stanley Cup is a little tardy arriving to LAs barn.
None of the Kings players need to see Phil Pritchard giving it the white glove treatment headed into the third period, but they might just want if a Cup winner is crowned shortly after that.