LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Kings are feeling the pressure. It's impossible not to be feeling it, but that's OK because pressure is part of it.
When that car carrying that box with the Stanley Cup inside of it rolls up with the police escort at the end of the second period, the players know. The players on one side are looking at it as an elimination game with the Cup in the house and it can be delivered to the other team in front of us. The players on the other side are looking at it as another chance to win this thing and it's there again, the Stanley Cup.
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.
I know a couple of guys refer to the first round and say, 'Well, if you get knocked out in the first round, you're still not winning the Cup.' I don't care for that. It's not the same at all. Emotionally you can think of it that way, but the Cup Final is the Cup Final, and the L.A. Kings are feeling the heat now.
But that's good. I think feeling a little bit of pressure is a good thing right now.
Sure, the Kings have faced some pressure in these playoffs, even if most people don't want to believe it.
They've had penalties called against them, goals against like Derek Morris scoring from the red line. Heck, the fact that you haven't had adversity and you lose a game, that is adversity.
They've grown those beards. They've played through injuries. They've done all this stuff, so they have had adversity even if it doesn't look like it, but now it's good that they're feeling some extra pressure in the Stanley Cup Final. I think we're going to see the best Kings team because of it.
And, the great thing is in a seven-game series, I believe the better team usually wins. Occasionally, there will be a team when a team that doesn't deserve to win winds up winning, but that is rare.
I believe the Kings are a better team, and now they go home, where they will have their home crowd, where they will have a chance to win the Stanley Cup yet again. Yes, there will be some angst. Yes, it will be very exciting and loud. The Kings are going to need to rev their fans up early. They need to come out the way they did in Game 5, frankly, and take it right to New Jersey.
This is where home-ice advantage matters -- late in the series, late in the playoffs. It means something now.
People like to say it doesn't mean anything in hockey, and in Games 1-5 they're probably right, it's probably right around 50-50 for the road team and the home team. This season it's probably even swayed in favor of the road team.
But, in Games 6 and 7, especially in the Cup Final, that's when home-ice advantage means something. The Bruins bucked the trend last season by winning Game 7 on the road, but in history home teams are 12-4 in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final.
This isn't Game 7 -- not yet at least -- but I think home-ice is going to be a key if the Kings use it in the right way, and they can't let the fact that the Devils have found this nugget of gold and are running with it bother them.
The Kings knew it was going to be a battle. These are the two best teams in the world and one of them has fought back, but the Kings have a home game to win the Stanley Cup and they've gotta go after it with confidence.
If New Jersey is the better team then it will find a way to win Game 6, go home and take care of business, become the latest team to win the Cup in Game 7 on its home ice. But, I think the Kings are a better team, I really do, and they are the ones at home.
If they play the same game Monday night that they played in Game 5, they will win the Stanley Cup.