Stanley Cup Final Perspectives
New York Islanders assistant coach and senior advisor Doug Weight is assisting the NHL Network in its coverage of the Stanley Cup Final as an analyst. Weight, who won the Stanley Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006, is also writing a blog for NHL.com every other day during the Final. Weight will focus on what it is like being a player on hockey's biggest stage.
In his first entry, Weight writes about the feelings on each side after the Kings' 2-1 overtime win in Game 1.
If I'm a teammate with the Los Angeles Kings, being 9-0 on the road, I'm pretty sure we're waking up today feeling really good about our position and confident after getting that elation of being up 1-0 in the Stanley Cup Final.
However, I'm also pretty sure that once we're able to get that elation out of our system, by the middle of the day we're going to come to the realization that we're pretty fortunate and we need to be a lot better on Saturday to come out of New Jersey with a two-game lead.
As a teammate I would start discussing and focusing on the fact that we have to be better, that we have to get the intensity up, amp our game up and that our decision-making has to be better. The Kings know they're going to see a different Devils team on Saturday because the way they played in Game 1 is not at all like the way they played throughout the playoffs.
Having said that, the Kings should also be thinking to themselves that they have a lot more in the tank, too. They're thinking they have to bring it from the drop of the puck on Saturday to be successful. That's how I would approach it as a leader of that team.
First and foremost, it's about reviewing what they did and what they have to be better at. Sure, there was a good feeling coming back to the hotel after the game, and it's important to have those feelings because it's important to feel that win and enjoy it, but when you wake up it's business as usual.
It shouldn't matter to the players that they have two full days off before Game 2. Whatever you have to do physically to get yourself ready is important, and then you start focusing on how to be better as a team and individually come Saturday. That's what the playoffs are all about.
The Kings players have to get their minds wrapped around the fact that they need to win a game on Saturday, so they all need to be better and hold their teammates accountable to do the same.
Jersey has proven that it can fight through adversity. The Kings know they're not playing a weak horse here.
From the Devils side, if I'm in that dressing room, the first thing I'm trying to do is get the sour taste out of my mouth.
All of the Devils players that spoke to the media after the game said it was their worst game of the playoffs. Sure, that's unacceptable, but it's behind them. They've lost the first game before, and they know how to be better.
If I'm a Devil, I'm talking about using our energy, our home crowd, and our work ethic, which is what we've used our whole way through the playoffs, in order to go win a hockey game. They're taking the day off, but it's important that they stay intense and focused.
It's a team game, but the selfishness in hockey is very important. Players have to be thinking about getting themselves ready, about playing their best and about helping lead their team, because that will in turn give their team a better chance to win the game.
The Devils have to be thinking that at the drop of the puck on Saturday, the Kings are not going to know what hit them.
They just played their worst game of the playoffs and lost in overtime to a team that is 9-0 on the road in the playoffs. They've gotta be thinking, if we played our worst game, we should have gotten blown out, but we didn't because those guys, the Kings, didn't do much against us and we know we're the better team.