You think you have them dead and buried, but they find a way to rise up again and become a big pain in your neck.
The Rangers led 2-0 in both Game 1 and Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final. In Game 2 they led again 4-2. But the Rangers were never able to finish the Kings off. Before each night was over, Los Angeles was haunting the visiting team. They won both games to take a 2-0 lead in the series.
“We’ve been digging ourselves holes here lately, but our resiliency, we find a way to dig deep, and that’s something you can’t recreate,” defenseman Willie Mitchell told NBC’s Pierre McGuire during a post-game interview after Game 2 against New York.
This is becoming old hat for the Kings. They were down three games to none in the opening round against the Sharks and became only the fourth team in NHL history to win a series after losing the first three games.
They had their backs up against the wall again against Anaheim in the second round when they lost three straight games to trail 3-2. They squeaked out a 2-1 win at home in Game 6 and then beat the Ducks in Anaheim 6-2 in Game 7 to advance to the Western Conference Final.
Once there, they again faced a road Game 7, this time in arguably the loudest building in the NHL, The Madhouse on Madison in Chicago. The Kings fell behind 2-0 early but tied the game at 2-2. They trailed 3-2 but evened the score at 3-3. After two periods, Chicago again had a one-goal lead, but Marian Gaborik tied it in the third period, Alec Martinez netted the game in overtime and the Kings won yet again.
Now, in the Stanley Cup Final, the Kings lead the series 2-0 despite never holding the lead in either of the first two games until they scored the overtime winner.
“Obviously, the gameplan is not be down two goals, but we battled back,” Anze Kopitar told reporters after Game 2. “It’s not encouraging to get down, but it seems when we do get down, that desperation kicks in. I think we showed that again tonight. Sometimes, we do play our best hockey when we’re desperate.”
The Kings seem to have taken on the personality of their head coach, Darryl Sutter. Sutter never seems to get too high or too low. He remains calm in the most difficult situations, like the eye in the center of a hurricane.
Sutter may be nervous or angry inside, but to the media, he remains calm and collected and simply moves on to the next question asked at his press conferences with wit, brevity and a very dry sense of humor. Sutter also remains supremely confident in his team’s ability to find ways to win hockey games, as do his players.
When asked about his team’s penchant for slow starts, Kings captain Dustin Brown told reporters after Game 2:
I’m not really that concerned because I understand that we can’t do it, but I also understand the type of guys we have in our room. I know we’ve been through a lot of emotional ups and downs. Again, I’m confident in our group, that we can sort it out and figure it out. ... We’re also aware of the type of team we are, how good we can be.
How good L.A. can be should be obvious by now. Coming back to win so many games has now become a habit for the Kings. It gives them confidence while placing just a seed of self doubt in the minds of opponents any time they hold a lead and the Kings score a goal.
Now they are just two wins away from their second Stanley Cup title in three years.
That’s the crazy thing about this year’s Los Angeles Kings. They keep coming back from the dead and finding ways to win. And nobody’s put a stake through their collective heart just yet.