Greetings from Madison Square Garden, where the Stanley Cup will be brought Wednesday night to be awarded to the Kings if they get that ever-difficult fourth win over the New York Rangers in the Cup Final.
The Kings have a 3-0 series lead, and only one team — the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs against the Detroit Red Wings — has ever overcome that deficit in the Final. Three others have done so in earlier rounds — including the Kings, who lost their first three games to San Jose in the first round before rallying to win the next four.
The Kings’ comeback against the Sharks will serve as a cautionary tale and motivation for the Kings to wrap things up against the Rangers on Wednesday, defenseman Drew Doughty said.
“Once we won that first game of the San Jose series, we kind of had a feeling we were going to come back and win that series,” he said. “And you could see it in their eyes, in their team, in their captains and leaders that they were worried about us coming back. So we don’t want to give these guys any life.
“They’re a good hockey team. They’re here in the Stanley Cup Final for a reason and we can’t let them back in this series. We need to win tonight. This game’s the most important game of our lives, of this season, especially. It’s a must-win.”
The Kings also had a 3-0 lead in the 2012 Final but couldn’t close out the New Jersey Devils on their first try. Or their second.. They lost Game 4 at home and Game 5 at New Jersey before they returned home and clinched their first-ever Cup triumph, exactly two years ago today.
“We know how hard it is to close out a series. We know that can’t take any games off, any shifts off,” Doughty said after the Kings’ morning skate at the Garden. “We’re just going to use that experience to try and close it out.
“We need to have our best effort tonight. We expect their best effort. It’s going to be a good hockey game, and it’s a game we need to win.”
Doughty said Kings team officials have made a conscious effort to eliminate some of the distractions that interfered with players’ concentration when they were in this position two years ago.
“Basically the distractions last time were trying to get tickets for certain people. There weren’t enough tickets and just kind of stuff like that going on,” he said. “We just talked about it as a group and we just said, let the families deal with it. Get your mom in charge. Get your wife in charge, whatever it needs to be, and completely forget about that.
“Rather than having to go for breakfast with them or something like that just focus on the team. You have a lot of time to see your family and friends after we hopefully win and right now it’s just focusing on this game.”
Doughty said his parents, his billet parents — the couple whose home he lived in while he played junior hockey — and his girlfriend would be at Wednesday’s game but he won’t see them until afterward.