By Curtis Zupke - NHL.com Correspondent
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – At least one Los Angeles Kings player acknowledged the obvious when it comes to Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final.
With a 3-0 series lead on the New Jersey Devils and a chance to hoist the franchise's first Stanley Cup on their home ice, Colin Fraser said what everyone is thinking. Sort of.
"We don't really care where we do it, but now that we're in the position to do it at home, yes," Fraser said. "You don't want to lose any games, right? We definitely want to do it at home. We put ourselves in a good position and we definitely want to take advantage of it."
Most of the Kings rolled out the expected guarded statements Tuesday about staying in focus and not thinking about the Stanley Cup being in the building on Wednesday. It's difficult not to believe the Kings won't close out the Devils, especially after New Jersey couldn't offer much resistance in a 4-0 loss in Game 3.
The celebrities will be in the house again. The white towels will be waving and perhaps the white glow sticks will be handed out again for the pre-game theatrics. The Kings can become the first team since the 1988 Edmonton Oilers to go 16-2 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They are already the first team to take 3-0 series leads in each four rounds since the current seven-game format was implemented in 1987.
But those guarded statements had a sliver of merit considering that Game 4s have been the only stumbling blocks for L.A., which lost to the Vancouver Canuck in the Western Conference Quarterfinals and to the Phoenix Coyotes in the conference finals.
Defenseman Rob Scuderi said he would like his team to be especially prepared because of it.
"We've been fortunate to get out to 3-0 leads in all the series and we're glad for that, but sometimes we've let a series drag on a little more than we would like it to," Scuderi said. "It's just one of those things where you try to bear down, and it's each individual preparing themselves as a member of the team. Hopefully we can get one more win, quickly."
Scuderi and Fraser are one of a handful of Kings who have been in position to record the 16th victory necessary to win the Cup. Dustin Penner and Justin Williams have also won the Cup with other teams, while Jarret Stoll is among several Kings that have lost in the Final.
"That's the hardest thing to do," Stoll said. "We all know that. Very few people have won it, so we know how hard it's going to be tomorrow night, so we've got to have legs. We've got to have the right mindset and have that instinct to just take it and earn it."
Stoll is aware of their 1-2 record in Game 4s and said, "I'm sure we can draw on that. We did a good job on the one series of closing it out, and the other two we didn't. We know the difference in the feeling. We know the difference in how we can play … you can't think ahead. You can't look ahead. We haven't done it at all in the playoffs. You got to be in the moment. If you're not in the moment, you're not focused on what's on front of you at the time."
Pointing out two losses in this run seems like nitpicking, though. While the Kings are in a trance-like state of not talking about their 15-2 run, the rest of the hockey world is trying to wrap its collective head around equating the 2012 Kings to the 1988 Oilers, who were also the last team to not have to play a Game 6 en route to the Cup.
To repeat, that's the 1988 Edmonton Oilers – considered to be among the stronger of the Wayne Gretzky-Edmonton teams, with Mark Messier, Jari Kurri and Grant Fuhr.
"It's a lot different hockey now," Stoll said. "It's special, for sure."
That's the closest Stoll and his teammates will publicly allow themselves to appreciate this magical run. They don't want it to interrupt their thought process and preparation, and that's probably a reflection of single-minded coach Darryl Sutter.
But Stoll said of their blitz that, "You never know. It's just the way it goes. You ride your confidence as far as you can take it. You ride your play. You ride your goaltender. And we got everybody going, and that's probably the best thing about our team is we're a team. If you're going to beat us, you got to come through a lot of us to beat us. That's the way we feel. That's the way we're playing. One more to go.
"There's some great players came through this organization and not won, and that's something that players want to change. We have a lot of pride in this organization. It's a great place to play. They treat us really well. It's hard not to want to win for people that treat you well. This city deserves it. They won a lot of championships in this building here – we've seen some world champion banners already. I think it's time for the Kings to have one."