Everyone knew when the series began that it wouldn't be an easy one for either team. That's why it was so surprising that the Los Angeles Kings stormed their way to a dominating 3-0 series lead.
However, Coach Peter DeBoer and the New Jersey Devils never panicked, never changed their game and never changed their attitude. Despite a few minor roster tweaks, like the insertion of Petr Sykora and Henrik Tallinder, the Devils have stayed true to what they believe works.
And it's paid off.
Now it's the Kings' turn. Facing an inspired charge by the Devils, the Kings are faced with an almost similar problem. Do you believe in the game that got you here? Do you remain positive in everything?
It seems that is the approach the Kings players are taking.
Bleacher Report was there to talk with Kings' alternate captain, Anze Kopitar, about not letting doubts creep into the team's game.
"Yeah, I mean, we're still in obviously a really good spot," Kopitar said. "If somebody would have told us that we were going to go up 3-2 going home to have the chance to close it out, I think everybody would sign that paper."
All things considered, the Kings are still in a position that 29 other teams would die to be in right now. The Kings were up 3-0 for a record-setting fourth time this postseason, and Mike Richards admitted yesterday that perhaps the Kings let that moment get to them a bit.
"Everyone was nervous for Game 4. Now we're back to having fun again like we were through the whole playoffs and the season."
It's important to remember that these guys are human beings. Despite playing on an almost supernatural level for some time, the pressure of being maybe the most dominant team in hockey history had to get to them a little bit. You work your whole life for a goal that is perhaps just one step away. It certainly can be a bit unnerving.
On top of the added self-pressure, most of the players' friends and families had flown in to hopefully see the one they love achieve his lifelong dream. With that kind of added vibe around Staples Center, Drew Doughty admitted it was hard to keep focused.
"I think a lot of us before Game 4 were distracted with family members and friends, the Cup coming in the building," Doughty said. "Family always comes first for everyone."
However, the 22-year-old then put it all into a better perspective by saying, "but at this point of the year, the team has to come first. We're a family in the room, on the ice."
The Kings know that they are facing a New Jersey team that is now revitalized.
Maybe the Kings can learn a lesson from their opponent. Regardless of the circumstances, if you believe in your game, the bounces will come, and the hard work will pay off.
After all, the Kings have had several glorious opportunities over the course of the last two games, including a total of five scuffed posts and at least four breakaways that were missed and/or blocked by Marty Brodeur.
But Captain Dustin Brown seems to have the right attitude. "I think all that stuff evens out. It's more about playing the game, sticking with your system," said Brown. "You just got to keep your head down, keep working."
One thing is for certain.
A lot of work will need to be done if the Kings want to put out the newly ignited fire in their opponent and skate the cup on home ice.
Jason Lewis is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report, reporting live from Staples Center. The interviews in this article were obtained first-hand. Follow Jason on twitter @SirJDL for up to the minute updates on Game 6 and the Kings.
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