The 2013-14 Los Angeles Kings are proving to be one of the more clutch teams in NHL history, seizing a 2-0 series lead over the New York Rangers in the 2014 Stanley Cup Final without having led for a single second in regulation.
While the Rangers can be encouraged by their impressive play over the course of the first two games in LA, the Eastern Conference champions have to be somewhat demoralized by the fact they have nothing to show for it as the series shifts to the East Coast.
Now just two wins away from claiming their second title in three years, the Kings remain the favorite to hoist the Cup this June.
Here's a look at the latest series odds after Game 2:
|Los Angeles Kings||1-9|
|New York Rangers||5-1|
Despite suffering two straight gut-wrenching defeats, the Rangers will have a shot to even the series in New York this week and potentially send it back to the West Coast on Friday.
Here's how the remainder of the series will play out:
|Wed, June 4||Kings W, 3-2 OT||8 p.m.||NBC|
|Sat, June 7||Kings W, 5-4 OT||7:15 p.m.||NBC|
|Mon, June 9||Game 3: Kings at Rangers||8 p.m.||NBCSN|
|Wed, June 11||Game 4: Kings at Rangers||8 p.m.||NBCSN|
|Fri, June 13||Game 5: Rangers at Kings*||8 p.m.||NBC|
|Mon, June 16||Game 6: Kings at Rangers*||8 p.m.||NBC|
|Wed, June 18||Game 7: Rangers at Kings*||8 p.m.||NBC|
*if necessary. Source: NHL.com
Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell, who assisted on Dustin Brown's game-winning goal in overtime No. 2 in Game 2, admits that LA's recipe for success is anything but ideal, per The Associated Press, via Fox Sports: "It's not the place we want to be, to have to climb out all the time. Sooner or later, it is going to bite you. I guess that's the great part about it is we find a way to battle back. We've got some work to do again."
But Mitchell and his teammates don't need to apologize for finding ways to win. After all, history tells us that their heroics in Games 1 and 2 are likely to pay off, as noted by ESPN Stats and Info:
Teams up 2-0 have gone on to win the Stanley Cup Final 90% of the time since the Final went to best-of-7 format in 1939 (43-of-48)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 8, 2014
Starting fast and scoring goals hasn't been a problem for the Rangers in this series, but the key moving forward will be finding a way to finish. New York can't afford to be content to sit on a lead in either Game 3 or Game 4 after surrendering a two-goal lead in each of the first two matchups in LA.
How will the Rangers fare in Games 3 and 4?
Playing at home should help the Rangers in key moments late, but at the same time, the Kings have been road warriors in these Stanley Cup playoffs and shouldn't be counted out at Madison Square Garden.
While the Rangers will be under immense pressure to win Game 3 and avoid falling into an insurmountable hole, Henrik Lundqvist and company can relieve some of that pressure with a win. The results in Games 1 and 2 prove that very little separates these two teams. Therefore, any shift in momentum could potentially spark the Rangers.
In addition to home ice, the Rangers will have the advantage of being the more desperate team in Games 3 and 4. And while desperation hardly guarantees success, it could be the difference in a series as evenly matched as this one.
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