Devils have momentum but Kings focused this time on Game 6
BY ADAM L. JAHNS email@example.com @adamjahns June 11, 2012 4:22PM
Updated: June 11, 2012 4:22PM
LOS ANGELES – The last time the New Jersey Devils were in Los Angeles they saw that a party was already being planned for the Kings -- and their demise.
“When your bus has to pull by the 10 limos parked on the road for the after party, that’s definitely motivation,” Devils coach Peter DeBoer said.
All New Jersey had done since is win two straight games to avoid being swept in the Stanley Cup finals and force a Game 6 at the Staples Center on Monday night. More important, the Devils have all the momentum, while the Kings have gotten frustrated.
“We have had an ability to rise to the occasion,” DeBoer said.
The Kings, on the other hand, have faltered. They’ve gotten scoring chances the past two, but haven’t been able to get through goalie Martin Brodeur enough. Even their overall focus has come into question.
Defenseman Drew Doughty -- arguably the Kings’ best player this series who isn’t goalie Jonathan Quick -- admitted that his team was distracted, especially before Game 4 in Los Angeles. It was as if everyone was ready to party without earning that right yet.
“We don’t want any distractions,” he said. “I think a lot of us before Game 4 were distracted with family members and friends, the Cup coming in the building.
“A lot of things we have to put aside. Family always comes first for everyone, but at this point of the year, the team has to come first. We’re a family in the room, on the ice. Right now, we’re No. 1 in everyone’s minds.”
Is that a lesson learned?
“Yeah,” Doughty said. “We realize a lot of us didn’t play at our potential in Game 4. We were nervous, worried about other things. All of us in the room were kind of frustrated that we were thinking about things ahead of time.
“[Coach] Darryl [Sutter] made sure that wasn’t going to happen this time. We’ll be well-prepared for Game 6.”
Those frustrations boiled over the Kings in Game 5 as the physicality and post-whistle aggression increased.
The Devils, meanwhile, were asked a lot about putting doubt in the Kings’ minds as they chase history. New Jersey is only the third team ever – and the first since 1945 – to fall behind 3-0 in a series and force a Game 6. They are 10-1 in Games 4 through 7 this postseason.
“We want to keep playing,” Devils rookie center Adam Henrique said. “Obviously, our backs are against the wall in those situations. Everybody has stepped up their game, brought their best, from our first line to our fourth line, all our [defensemen] and Marty too.
“We believe in ourselves and the guys in the room.”