Kings will be at Staples Center, but where will the Stanley Cup be?

The Kings don't want to talk about the Stanley Cup itself on the day they can win it.

It's hard to find a more superstitious group than hockey players.

Scraggly playoff beards. Bizarre on-ice rituals. Refusal to touch any trophy other than the actual Stanley Cup, making the conference trophies among the most lonely in sports.

So it's no surprise the Kings don't want to talk about the Stanley Cup itself on the day they can win it.

Team officials walk away from conversations about it. Players dance around questions from loud-mouthed reporters. League officials talk only in hushed tones about the possible on-ice arrival of the Cup if the Kings beat the New York Rangers on Friday in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final.

The Cup never made it into Madison Square Garden in Game 4, which was lost by the Kings, 2-1, and cut their series lead to a still-strong 3-1.

There was a rehearsal before Wednesday's game in New York with a red carpet and everything, but it wasn't with the real Cup. It was unclear if there would be a rehearsal Friday at Staples Center, but the Cup will not enter the arena unless the Kings won ... or have a solid lead toward the end of the game.

It will be in the periphery of the arena, likely in a secure vehicle, but definitely outside of Staples Center.

Shhhh. Just don't talk to the Kings about it.

"We know it's in the building and we know what we're playing for," Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell said Friday morning, one of the few introspective quotes about the Cup itself from a player who, of course, sported a playoff beard. "I don't think there needs to be any extra motivation this time of year."

The NBA had a different approach with its championship hardware, storing the Larry O'Brien trophy in a well-guarded Staples Center office when the Lakers and Boston Celtics played a Game 7 here in the 2010 NBA Finals.

Superstition might be part of the NBA. It's nothing like it is in the NHL.

The Kings didn't have much puck luck in their Game 4 loss to the Rangers, having two shots stop tantalizingly short of the goal and another clank off the iron.

They will try to shake it off Friday and win their second Stanley Cup ever. They'd rather earn that type of history than play a single-season league-record 27th playoff game if the series moves back to New York for a Game 6.

"Everybody in here is confident enough. If we do throw our 'A' game, it should be enough," Kings center Anze Kopitar said. "We just have to get ready."

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