One friendly suggestion for a hockey team on the verge of winning a second Stanley Cup, in search of one more victory:
You don't need to hide the limos, women and children. Just the limos.
In 2012, the New Jersey Devils team bus pulled up to Staples Center and found the streets outside the arena clogged with limos, poised to hit the party scene after the game. This was when the Kings had a 3-0 series lead in the Stanley Cup Final.
"When your bus has to pull by 10 limos parked on the road ready for the after-party, that's definitely motivation," Devils Coach Peter DeBoer said then.
The Devils promptly won Game 4 in Los Angeles. They made things even more tense by taking Game 5 in Newark, N.J. The Kings finally clinched the Stanley Cup at Staples Center in Game 6.
The Stanley Cup, the New York Rangers, the Kings and the massive Kings' traveling party made the cross-country trek back to Los Angeles. The Kings returned home about 3 a.m. Thursday and some players later practiced at El Segundo. The Rangers arrived later in the day and held a full session at Staples Center.
In New York, the Kings' entourage was impressive at Madison Square Garden, a sizable collection of wives, significant others, parents, children and a couple of strollers with infants. The hope for the Kings — who hold a 3-1 series lead — is to prevent another cross-country trip by winning Friday in Game 5.
"Just win — that's with a big period and exclamation point after it," said Kings winger Justin Williams. "I don't care where it is. Win one more."
Said Kings center Jarret Stoll: "We've won three games, we've got to win four, it doesn't matter where we win the fourth. I think that's a no-brainer?"
That's the flip side of the Kings' resilience. Nothing has come easy for this group, having navigated through three seven-game playoff series before getting to the Stanley Cup Final. In retrospect, the 16-4 run in 2012 seemed like a breeze.
Game 5 will be their 26th playoff game, matching an NHL record held by two teams for most in a postseason — the 1987 Philadelphia Flyers, and most recently the 2004 Calgary Flames, who were coached by Darryl Sutter, now the Kings' coach.
Simply another milestone in a season full of milestones for the Kings.
Naturally, the back-and-forth nature of a playoff series manages to bring forth questions using Sutter's least favorite words — the disliked trio of "momentum," "surprised" and "frustrated."
"I think the question was asked several times — asked again last night about momentum," Sutter said. " I know it's usually media-created.
"There's momentum during games and momentum with penalties, momentum with scoring chances, things like that. But if it was always about momentum from game to game, then most series would be over in four and it wouldn't be called four-out-of-seven, it would be the team that won the first game must have the momentum, and the team that won the last game must have all the momentum.
"I don't think you get to that point ever, quite honestly. I've never been a believer in that because it bears itself out."
Sutter did offer specifics about the Game 4 loss, however.
"I don't like the way the goals were scored against us last night," he said. "It was basically right after a penalty, a penalty that we didn't have to take after winning a faceoff.
"The second one was obviously losing a battle at the net. You've got to score three goals to win. I've said that. I know some don't agree, but it's true. I've been in it long enough. You've got to score three goals to win, you're pushing it."
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