Previewing the Los Angeles Kings' 2013-14 Stanley Cup Final:
Game 5 vs. NY Rangers
June 13, 2014
5pm PST (8pm EST)
Hockey is a game of inches and the Los Angeles Kings found out that out - twice - on Wednesday night. Despite outplaying the New York Rangers in the latter part of Game 4, the silver-and-black came up short, falling 2-1. With the win, the Blueshirts avoided the sweep and forced Game 5 for Friday night at Staples Center.
On Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden, celebrities were holding up four fingers in favour of the Rangers signifying the team's tall task ahead of them. Down 0-3 in the Stanley Cup Final, the Rangers have no choice but to win four-straight games. They already have one win down. Now they need three more, and it begins in Los Angeles on Friday.
The Kings players - Justin Williams especially - know what's at stake in Game 5 and avoiding a long plane ride back to the Big Apple poses as determination enough to end the series on home ice. But Henrik Lundqvist, who was at his best on Wednesday, needs to be solved like in the first three games of the series. The Kings also need to be a bit more aggressive in front of the net, which may result in a puck just barely crossing the goal line. But credit is due for New York's defensive unit as well who blocked a total of 20 shots in Game 4, making up for a subpar offense that could only muster 19 shots against netminder Jonathan Quick.
The Kings certainly know what they have to do as they came out wanting to win on Wednesday. While they did fall short, nothing slowed them down. Now, they are hoping that the Staples Center faithful will prove to be the difference between a sixth game and another Stanley Cup crown.
I have been saying all postseason long but it bears repeating: the KIngs need to stop taking early penalties. While the Rangers didn't score on the man-advantage in Game 4, they did open the scoring just seconds after Willie Mitchell left the box with a high-sticking infraction. The Blueshirts garnered momentum in the Los Angeles zone and made the Kings pay. The silver-and-black hope for a better start in Game 5.
It's Friday the 13th and it's going to be a full moon. The odds of such events are slim, but they will happen. The only question is which side will this oddity to favour? Can the Rangers force a Game 6 back in Manhattan or will the Kings end the series - and their championship quest - once and for all?
We will just have to wait and see.
Enjoy the game!