NEWARK, N.J. The last thing the Los Angeles Kings probably wanted to do was get back on that plane on Thursday.
Its part of the rigors of a Stanley Cup series, one that continues because the New Jersey Devils won Game 4 in L.A. on Wednesday. But in hitting the road again, the Kings have likely never felt more at home.
Yes, weve been through the Kings remarkable road roll during these playoffs. But when you go 10-0 away from home it bears repeating, and the Kings will try to tap into that road magic again on Saturday night in Game 5 against the Devils. Its another opportunity to claim the Cup for the Kings, and if they finish it up on the road, whos really going to be surprised?
Even during regular seasons, teams often talk about how much more relaxed, more focused they are on the road. The Kings have epitomized that in these playoffs. From their opportunistic special teams to the stellar play of Jonathan Quick, the Kings have done just about everything right on the road.
We play a solid team game on the road, Anze Kopitar said. And were going to need it tomorrow.
That road focus is there for another reason, too. Back home, Los Angeles has caught Kings fever. Players said the coverage and attention has been tremendous. And while thats great and positive and such, it can also be distracting. So three time zones and a coast away, they can focus on the task at hand.
Theres so much happening, Jeff Carter said of L.A.s hockey buzz. Especially when youre one win away, its nice to get away and focus on hockey. Thats what were here to do is to win. Were comfortable playing on the road. There are no distractions, nothing to worry about, except hockey.
Colin Fraser, who dealt with that Cup craze in Chicago during their run in 2010, agreed.
Theres a lot going on, just a buzz in the city, said Fraser. Were comfortable on the road. I dont really know why, but weve just played well on the road.
So it comes down to at least one more game. For the Kings, make that at least one more road game. Theyve excelled there, even if they cant exactly figure out why. One more victory, and they wont have to think about anything except that Cup.