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Roenick: Gut-check time for Kings

by Jeremy Roenick

LOS ANGELES -- Playing behind an impressive veteran goalie, a determined captain and a reliable fourth line, the New Jersey Devils have clawed back into the Stanley Cup Final with back-to-back wins.

Now the Devils have NBC Sports analyst Jeremy Roenick wondering if the damage they have done to the legacy and history that the Los Angeles Kings were trying to create in these playoffs will be good enough to force a Game 7 back in Newark.

"If they win one more game here in L.A., then you have to make them the odds-on favorite to win it," Roenick told "It's a 60-minute game in order to play the biggest game of their lives in their own building."

Roenick, though, hasn't lost faith in the Kings, despite the fact that they have lost two in a row for the first time in the playoffs. They still lead the series 3-2 with the chance to win their first Stanley Cup championship Monday at Staples Center (8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS).

"It's big-time gut-check time," Roenick said of the Kings.


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Here are more of Roenick's thoughts before what previously looked like an impossible Game 6: What have you seen from New Jersey that has enabled it to win the last two games?

JR: "New Jersey is playing with desperation. The Devils are doing exactly what they need to do with their backs against the wall. It's complete desperation and I think they're getting energized by their fourth line. I really think Steve Bernier, Ryan Carter and Stephen Gionta have been fantastic in terms of their energizer-bunny roles. I'm really impressed with Bernier. He's been physical and in people's faces. He's doing a lot of good things for the Devils. I also think the captain came up big in Game 5. It was Zach Parise's best game of the series so far. But, again, Marty Brodeur is impressing everyone with his clutch, big-time, big-moment performances that he continues to put out year after year after year. It is no different this year. He's keeping this team in games. So how now do the Devils deal with this challenge? Because it's still win four in a row, but they're halfway there and on the road again?

JR: "Well, for them now it's not four in a row. For them it's win one game. It's one win game here in L.A. I think [Devils coach] Peter DeBoer has been approaching this the right way. He's approaching it slowly, one period at a time, get a good start, and try to get that first goal, which has been very important in this series. They've been very focused at playing a very structured game without panicking. This team hasn't panicked, in my opinion." Do you think the Devils have the Kings frustrated and off their game?

JR: "Oh, absolutely. I think they have the Kings frustrated. I think they have the Kings worried. I think they have the Kings tired. There have to be guys second-guessing themselves right now, second-guessing their opportunity here, their chance." What do the Kings draw on right now? Because they haven't been in this situation yet in the playoffs.

JR: "For the Kings, it's gut-check time. They're tired. They're sore. They're injured. They're facing adversity for the first time in these playoffs, losing two in a row. They're hitting posts and getting bad bounces. A lot of these guys on this team, their futures can be determined on how we see them respond in a pressure-packed situation. You're at home. You're tired. You're sore. You're frustrated. Who is going to come out and play their best hockey? Who is going to come out and lay it all on the line? Who is going to leave that game totally spent with the Stanley Cup in their hands? It's gut-check time, period."

LOOK (AND FEEL) LIKE A KING Outside of Jonathan Quick, who we can just assume will be good again, who is going to be that guy for the Kings?

JR: "If Game 5 was any indication, Justin Williams is a key for the Kings. I think Dustin Brown is hurting. I think Anze Kopitar is hurting and tired. I think Mike Richards is hurting and tired. Justin Williams has won a Cup in 2006 with Carolina, so I'm going with him to be the Kings' key ingredient [outside of Quick] to winning the game Monday night. He was the best skater on the ice in Game 5 for both teams." Do you think the Kings will win it?

JR: "I do. I think the Kings will win it in overtime. For me, it's just about being at home, the last-ditch effort and energy. I think they might get a couple of bounces that they haven't gotten in the last couple of games. It's also really hard to win three games in a row against the same team. You know, it's going to be close, a flip of a coin. The Devils have played so well and have really impressed the hockey world. But I think it's going to come down to an overtime game, a lucky bounce, a bad bounce that ends up in the back of the net. I think the Kings will get that bounce."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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