NEWARK, N.J. -- It sure can be fascinating to watch how the mind of a professional hockey player works.
Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar said Wednesday night that Martin Brodeur probably remembered a shootout move from six years ago, so he went forehand on the game-winning breakaway in overtime of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final instead of backhand. On Thursday afternoon, he was answering a question about L.A.'s amazing road success in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs and he couldn’t recall exactly how many consecutive road wins the team had in this postseason.
"I think we are ... what are we, 9-0 or 8-0?" Kopitar said.
It is that kind of short-term memory loss that seems to be a driving force in the collective success of the Kings, who are now 13-2 in these playoffs and have a 1-0 series lead on the New Jersey Devils. Game 2 is Saturday night at the Prudential Center (8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS) and the Kings will be going for road win No. 10 of the 2012 playoffs, which would tie the record for most road wins in a postseason.
The Kings have steamrolled through the top three seeds in the Western Conference and have a chance to grab a 2-0 series lead on the Devils. It seems like a big reason for all of this is that the Kings are good at, well, forgetting all of this.
"When we get the first win, it is just about thinking it is a 0-0 series and focus on the next start so we can do it again," Kopitar said.
Added defenseman Drew Doughty: "I think it has already kind of worn off. Even though that was a big win, we have to go into the next one as if the series is starting all over again -- like it is 0-0 and we’ve got to get that first win on the road. I know guys are thinking that way and [coach] Darryl [Sutter] is going to be preaching that to us."
Winning nine straight road games in one postseason is a historic achievement [the overall streak is actually at 11 in the playoffs, dating back to last season]. What makes this spring's accomplishments even more incredible is the Kings’ position as the No. 8 seed in the West -- they’ve had to start every series on the road.
It is one thing for a higher-seeded team to win Games 3 and 4 on the road, but quite another for a lower-seeded squad to show up in a city and take a stranglehold on a series before getting to play a home game. To do that once in a postseason is impressive; the Kings have done it three times and will try to make it four Saturday night.
"I don't know prior. I'm only looking ahead," coach Darryl Sutter said after the team's optional practice Thursday at the Prudential Center. "I think it's a funny setup again, between Game 1 and Game 2, we only played one game in four days since we got here. That's how it was going to be, so now it's get ready for Saturday again. It's not about what happened, who we played last time, anything like that. I think we know our opponent is a lot tougher than anyone we played yet. Going into [Wednesday] night, I think they were, what, 6-2, something like that, in home games. I think we know what the challenge will be on Saturday."
"When we get the first win, it is just about thinking it is a 0-0 series and focus on the next start so we can do it again." -- Anze Kopitar
If claiming a 2-0 lead in every series to this point isn’t impressive enough, there is some potential alarming news for the Devils -- the Kings have played better in Game 2 than they did in Game 1 in each of the first three series.
Dustin Brown scored two shorthanded goals in Game 2 against Vancouver, and the Kings led 4-1 before a late goal by the Canucks made the final score a little closer. Los Angeles torched St. Louis for four first-period goals in Game 2 and rolled to a 5-2 victory.
In Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals, Jeff Carter had a hat trick and the Kings dominated the Phoenix Coyotes in a 4-0 triumph. Any time a team loses Game 1 at home, there is an obvious desperation level that sets in for Game 2, but that has not fazed the Kings.
"Game 2s -- it's been our starts," Brown said. "We jumped on teams early and probably, most noticeably, against St. Louis we had a 4-0 lead after the first. That goes a long way. Teams get one win and they're satisfied, and this group hasn't been. It goes a long way when you come out and Game 2 and put it to them. It can be demoralizing."
Added Doughty: "That team is going to come hard in Game 2, especially in the first 10 minutes. We have to be prepared for that before the game, and we have to exceed their work ethic. They’re going to be desperate and we have to play that exact same way."