NEW YORK – Better not ask the LA Kings players for tickets to tonight’s Game 4.
Doesn’t matter the relationship you might have with them. They’re not budging. And forget about having breakfast or lunch. Eat on your own, mom. Hang out by yourself, wife. Tour New York by yourself, dad.
After a lack of focus caused Los Angeles to lose Games 4 and 5 of the 2012 Cup Final, they’re taking no chances this time. The team has put a moratorium on outside distractions.
“The distractions last time were trying to get tickets for certain people, enough tickets, stuff like that going on,” said defenseman Drew Doughty, who has five family members coming to tonight’s potential Cup-clincher at Madison Square Garden. “We just talked about it as a group, we said let the families deal with it. Get your mom in charge, get your wife in charge, whatever it needs to be. Just 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 the game.”
This is a veteran team. Not only of winning, but of making improbable comebacks. In the first round of this postseason, the Kings trailed the Sharks 3-0 – on the verge of an embarrassing first-round blowup. But then, they won the final four games of the series – all by at least three goals, to shock San Jose, tossing them out of the playoffs.
“Once we won that first game in that San Jose series, we kind of had a feeling we were going to come back and win that series,” Doughty said. “You could see it in their eyes, in their team, their captains and leaders, they were worried about us coming back.”
“It’s not great that we put ourselves in those positions, but I like the way we answered a lot of the adversity,” said forward Dwight King. “The biggest thing is we just believe. As long as we continue to put in the work and play the right way, we can find our way back into games, and that’s been important for us.”
“It comes with experience,” said defenseman Jake Muzzin. “Guys have been there. We know what to expect, and we know what we have to do to win. That comes with being focused, well-prepared, and having that belief in the room. It’s a compliment to the guys and to the coaches.”
Los Angeles knows how to win. They know how to make the improbable comeback. The first three games of this Stanley Cup Final were clinics in perseverance and skilled hockey. They’re the better team. They’ve played like it, and they know it.
“It sucks being down 3-0,” said forward Tyler Toffoli. “When you go out there, you play with everything you have, and you really have nothing to lose. We have to be ready for what they have to offer. Their whole team’s going to be playing desperate. We have to match that, and we have to be a more-desperate team.”
“We don’t want to give these guys any life,” Doughty said. “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 the series. This game is the most important game of our lives – of this season especially. It’s a must-win.”