The tension and the magnitude of the past two Stanley Cup champions slugging it out, toe to toe, is compelling enough.
Add in a Game 5 double-overtime epic and the superb play of superstars and emerging young players, and these Western Conference finals are taking on a storied feel.
Friday night at 6 is Game 6 at Staples Center, the Kings holding a three games-to-two lead with the chance to reach their second Stanley Cup Final in three years.
Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said after Wednesday's 5-4, double-overtime loss in Chicago that he planned on an extended sleep on the flight home after playing 39 minutes, 4 seconds, with nine shots on goal, four blocked shots and a plus-two rating. But the excitement of the series kept Doughty awake all the way home.
In one segment of the first overtime, the teams skated without a break for nearly eight minutes.
"I felt good out there," Doughty said Thursday at the team's El Segundo training facility. "I want to play a lot of minutes like that, especially in those kinds of situations going into OT. I think adrenaline just kicks in and you don't get tired."
Said Kings winger Marian Gaborik: "It was unbelievable game for fans to watch, especially overtime when there was maybe under 10 minutes of no stoppage. The pace was very good. For you guys, for all the fans, it must have been a very good experience."
That drive for victory is deep on both sides.
The Kings responded to a 2-0 deficit in Game 2 with six goals to deal the Blackhawks their first home playoff loss this postseason, then won two home games with performances from youngsters such as rookie winger Tyler Toffoli and defenseman Jake Muzzin overcoming a two-goal Game 3 effort by Chicago captain Jonathan Toews.
In Game 5, Chicago's Patrick Kane had four assists, and linemate Brandon Saad was seemingly everywhere, eventually assisting Michal Handzus on the winning goal. The Elias Sports Bureau reported that Kane became the first Blackhawks player to record four assists in a playoff game since Steve Larmer did so in Game 7 of the 1990 Norris Division finals against the St. Louis Blues.
The Kings and Blackhawks aren't the only high-octane teams still alive. This has been the highest-scoring conference finals in 23 years, averaging 6.9 goals per game through Wednesday.
"I'm sure it's fun for the fans," Kopitar said. "But from a structure standpoint of view, we want to tighten it."
Chicago's second line of Kane, Saad and center Andrew Shaw combined for a goal and eight assists Wednesday. Kane had a slow start in this series, recording one point in the first four games.
"We both have some skill, and with hard work out there he creates a lot of space, so I just try to get open and he can make a play," Saad said Thursday to reporters in Chicago before boarding the team flight to Los Angeles. "It was fun last night, and hopefully we can continue having success and stay together.
"To be able to produce and help out the team in that way, that always helps with … bringing your game to the next level."
The Blackhawks are revisiting the formula they used to beat Detroit after being down 3-1 last year, and trailing St. Louis 2-0 in the first round this postseason.
"You try to relax and take it like any other game, because any time you think too much into the future, it tends to hinder your game," Saad said.
Toews said he's motivated to help make the Blackhawks a dynasty.
"We showed how resilient of a group we are [Wednesday] night," Toews said. "We're going to do it again [Friday]."Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times