Winning at home, on the road, it doesn’t matter. For better or worse, Al Davis said it best.
For the second time in three seasons, the Los Angeles Kings have an opportunity to close out the Stanley Cup Final on home ice. It’s a sharp departure from the one home playoff game won between 2003 and 2011.
History is irrelevant entering tonight’s Game 5. The Kings will be looking to win one game, and they’ll be enveloped by friendly, familiar surroundings.
“It would be great to win it at home,” Drew Doughty said. “The fans deserve it. The city deserves it. Like you said, it doesn’t matter to us. We just want to win the thing. Wherever it happens, it happens but we need to get it done sooner than later. You kind of forget about how many games you played before. The more games we keep playing, eventually it might catch up to us. That makes tonight even more of a must win game and that’s all we’re looking to do.”
A far cry from the one home playoff win in eight years, tonight’s game marks the 64th playoff game Los Angeles has played since 2012, which sets an NHL record. The Kings will also tie a league record held by the 1987 Flyers and 2004 Flames by playing their 26th playoff game of 2014. Neither the Flames of Flyers won the Stanley Cup after such an extensive line of postseason work. Are the Kings at all feeling the spring mileage?
“Oh no, we’re fine. We’re completely fine,” Doughty said. “This is what we work all summer for. This is what we work all season for. We get days off in between games and that’s awesome because our coach allows us to rest and regroup. Yeah, we’re fine. No matter what happens we’re going to continue to battle and continue to play the way we can. But still, tonight is the most important game and the only game that matters now.”
And just because there is the chance to make history and earn a second Cup engraving in three years, there won’t be any different feel within the room in advance of a crucially important home game.
“No, I think we treat it kind of similar,” Doughty said. “There are so many times we had to play desperate hockey in the first three rounds as well. We were able to win a lot of those games. We just need to do the same thing tonight, treat it as that Game 7. We know how good our team can play in Game 7 games. Why not just pretend this is a Game 7 and play that desperate style of hockey? Because when everyone is playing that way, all the guys play great hockey and that makes us a great team.”