NEWARK, N.J. -- The discussion is on the challenge of inching your way back into a series. The thing is, when you do inch your way back in, when you're able to win just one game, all of a sudden you fly six hours across the country and you find yourself back in your rink, where you have been a pretty darn good home team, and you've gained some momentum getting there.
The Devils have some more confidence now -- and they've created for the Kings, although it will never be admitted in that situation, a little bit of angst and doubt, a little bit of fear that can start creeping in.
It's just different when you're playing in the Stanley Cup Final. You have that silver thing in the box that will be in the building from here on out.
I can remember back to 2006 with Carolina, and as much confidence as I had in our team -- believe me, we were confident, resilient and we thought we were the best team in the world -- when you're up 3-1 and you lose that Game 5, you start thinking, 'Geez, if we lose again it's Game 7 and that's simply a shootout.'
We had that fear and that doubt in 2006. It's human nature. It's the what-ifs.
Little thoughts like that start entering your head. That's what New Jersey wanted to create and has created, so with the drop of the puck the Devils have to continue their aggressive play.
I thought they played their most physical game of the series Wednesday night. They used their speed and were very aggressive with the forecheck.
It was a good move by Peter DeBoer getting Petr Sykora in the lineup. I thought he brought some life to that line. And Patrik Elias, whether he had any bearing on the score or not (he did), I thought it was his best game.
I was also really impressed with Henrik Tallinder on the point, too. Being out for five months and coming into the Cup Final -- wow, he was impressive playing 20 minutes.
Really I thought both Sykora and Tallinder brought some life to the team. They both created offense and had some jump -- but more important, they had confidence that sometimes lacks in a team that is down.
From the Kings' perspective, it's really the same. They knew New Jersey was a good team and this wasn't going to be easy.
They've gotta be saying to themselves, "Hey, we're 15-3 for good reason. We did some really good things in Game 4, probably outplayed New Jersey for parts of the game, but we knew Marty was capable of coming up big. We knew Games 1 and 2 could have gone either way, but we put ourselves in a good position and don't forget that last thing, we're undefeated on the road in the playoffs."
With all that, the Kings have to feel comfortable that they can play the same road game they have played so well in these playoffs by focusing on their execution. One game didn't go their way, but when they look up and down at the stats, we see it as announcers and analysts, they have been the better team to this point.
It's not by a huge margin, but Jonathan Quick has better numbers than Martin Brodeur. The Kings' power play has been better. Their penalty kill has been way better. They've taken the play more to the Devils than the Devils have taken it to them. It's been a closer series than 3-0 or 3-1, but they have to take into account how they have the edge in the series in more than just the scoreboard.
I don't think losing one game will affect their play at the beginning of Game 5, but what it does is it makes you more vulnerable. If something goes bad, that big confidence isn't as big as it was so it takes less to change the tide of the game. We see it in every sport. Momentum changes quickly. The better the Kings can recognize that, the better they are.
Darryl Sutter has said some really good things of late. He realizes that the first three games could have been different, and that very rarely do you see every series start out 3-0. That's a credit to the Kings, but it doesn't mean they are any worse because they lost one game. If any team can handle this situation, it's the Kings because of the way they have been focused and level-headed through all of their success this postseason.
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