Three games into the Stanley Cup playoffs, the L.A. Kings were already on the verge of elimination. They’re now on the verge of making it back to the final series for the second time in three years.
That Kings team that won the 2012 Stanley Cup ran through every team like a hot knife through butter, if you’ll excuse the cliche. This year’s edition has taken the last three games against the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference Final after a solid 5-2 victory in Game 4 on Monday.
Helps when Jonathan Quick finds his form. But the Kings feature four players – Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, Marian Gaborik and Justin Williams – at the top of NHL playoff scoring. L.A., in these playoffs, is averaging 3.39 goals per game. They’ve allowed a fourth-best goals-against, at 2.61 goals per game.
“It’s tough because you try not to look back, really. You just focus on the next game. But obviously the one similarity is we’ve been able to win as many games as we have,” said Quick, as per LA Kings Insider.
“We put ourselves in a position where we have an opportunity to win a game to go to the finals. Our team two years ago was able to that. We were able to do that right now. That doesn’t mean anything as far as anythings going to be handed to us. We’ve got a lot to do to be able to earn that win.”
People love star athletes because they can do amazing things. Even so, people also often love to see the occasional moment of weakness.
Aside from the occasional injury hiccup, Sidney Crosby‘s been as advertised after being a super-hyped No. 1 overall pick. He has that “Golden Goal,” two Olympic gold medals, a Stanley Cup ring and plenty of individual accolades.
Not many people expected the Capitals-Penguins series to be over in five games, but there’s a chance that could happen before the end of the week. After their 3-2 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh on Wednesday night, the Capitals are one loss away from being bounced from the 2016 playoffs.
The Capitals failed to take advantage of the fact that Kris Letang was suspended for Game 4 because of his hit on Marcus Johansson in Game 3. Letang is now set to return for Game 5 which makes Washington’s task even more difficult.
“We didn’t take advantage of it,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said, per NHL.com. “One thing I said to the guys coming into this, and we talked it about it yesterday, was when Kris got his suspension, is that they’re going to rally. Their whole team, their forwards are going to come back. They talked about they didn’t play their best game (in Game 3) and now they have Letang out and everybody had to step up on their side, and I thought they did.”
If you look back at the regular season, the Capitals were head and shoulders above the rest of the Eastern Conference and the league for a good portion of the season. Washington finished 11 points ahead of second place Dallas in the league standings and it looked like they had the team that would finally take them over the hump.
Although things look gloomy, it’s important to realize that the series is far from over. Many NHLers would tell you that the fourth win is always the hardest to come by in a best-of-seven series, and by no means is anyone expecting the Capitals to wave the white flag.
“Whenever you lose a game, it’s obviously an opportunity missed, but it had nothing to do with them missing some of their players,” said Caps forward Jay Beagle, per NHL.com. “We’re looking forward. Our back’s against the wall and the most important game of our lives is coming up.”
Game 5 goes Saturday night in Washington.
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