EL SEGUNDO, CALIF. - The Los Angeles Kings, self-admittedly, lost their focus in this Stanley Cup final.
They were poised to sweep the New Jersey Devils for the first Stanley Cup in franchise history, but they got ahead of themselves and have since lost two games. Still, they carry a 3-2 lead into Game 6 Monday night.
Their shorts have gotten a little tight.
That means things will be a little different going into Game 6.
“Yeah, we don’t want any distractions. I think a lot of us before Game 4 were distracted with family members and friends, the Cup coming in the building, a lot of things we have to put aside,” said Kings defenceman Drew Doughty. “Family always comes first for everyone, but at this point of the year, the team has to come first. We’re a family in the room, on the ice. Right now we’re number one in everyone’s mind.”
Kings forward Mike Richards, who’s playing in his second final and won a gold medal at the Olympics, said shutting out the distractions is a challenge.
“Well, it’s tough. You get a lot of texts and calls. People want to come and be a part of it. At the same time it’s something you have to handle as a professional, limit distractions, focus on the game,” he said.
What’s happened has been noted and Kings coach Darryl Sutter will make sure their heads are on straight for Monday night.
“Yeah, I think that’s a lesson learned. We realize a lot of us didn’t play at our potential in Game 4. We were nervous, worried about other things,” Doughty said. “All of us in the room were kind of frustrated that we were thinking about things ahead of time.
“Darryl made sure that wasn’t going to happen this time. We’ll be well-prepared for Game 6.”
Richards said he thinks the Kings have gotten past the nerves of Game 4 and gotten back to the mindset they had earlier in the playoff run.
“I wish it was over, but... It’s fun. The process is fun. Everyone was nervous for Game 4. Now we’re back to having fun again like we were through the whole playoffs and the season. We were nervous before. I thought we played a pretty good game (Saturday) night, but didn’t get the result that we wanted. We’re going to do the same thing we’ve done all year, try to get better every game.”
The Devils, meanwhile, are going to face the same kind of atmosphere at Staples Center they faced in Game 4.
Coach Pete DeBoer said the Devils avoided elimination in that game by drawing on the atmosphere.
“Sure, that’s motivation. When your bus has to pull by the 10 limos parked on the road for the after party,” he said, “that’s definitely a motivation.”