The Kings missed a number of good scoring opportunities and what may make some fans nervous—if only slightly—is the fact that L.A. has been a streaky team in the 2013-14 postseason.
The Kings have lost back-to-back games numerous times in these playoffs. They lost three consecutive contests to both the San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks. Game 1 of the Western Conference Final was their only loss that's sandwiched between wins.
However, with that said, Kings fans should be confident their team will close out the New York Rangers in Game 5 on Friday. The Kings have the advantage of home ice, experience in this situation and, of course, that fact that they performed well in Game 4.
Home Ice and Experience
The Kings have been a consistent force at home, with the exception of the games versus New York, where they were outplayed but still managed to sneak away with two overtime wins.
They are 7-4 at the Staples Center in the playoffs, and the first five of those wins came in regulation by a combined score of 21-10. For most of the postseason, they have outworked their opponents physically and generated plenty of scoring chances. There is no reason they can’t do the same on Friday.
The Kings also have experience, having been in this situation just two years ago. The eighth-seeded Kings took a 3-0 lead in each of their four series en route to their first Stanley Cup in franchise history. But, they lost Game 4 in three of the four rounds, including Game 4 of the Final against the New Jersey Devils.
Although the Kings are a young team, the majority of the players who won the Stanley Cup in 2011-12 are still on this squad. They won’t feel any additional pressure or be thrown off their game by a shaky start in Game 5. They will continue to play their style and the system Darryl Sutter has laid out for them. They did it in 2012, and they've done it in these playoffs, where they've faced elimination seven times.
Sutter said it best when speaking with Brian Compton of NHL.com.
"We had a lot of good opportunities," he said. "But you got to finish. You're only going to get a handful most nights against the New York Rangers. You got to finish a couple of them."
The Kings played an excellent road game, outshooting the Rangers 41-19. They dominated the final half of the contest, controlling the puck and putting relentless pressure on Henrik Lundqvist. They outshot the Rangers 15-1 in the final frame but couldn't come up with a goal.
Twice in the game, they came within inches of scoring, only to have the puck knocked away. Jeff Carter’s stick failed to push the puck over the goal line in the midway point of the first period. In the third period, with less than two minutes remaining, a shot from the point led to a huge scramble in front with the puck resting on the line, but again, it stayed out.
The Kings are playing at a much higher level than they did early in the series. They have more depth, experience and talent than the Rangers, and it showed in Game 4.
Unless Lundqvist stands on his head and the Kings miss chances where the puck is sitting on the goal line, L.A. should win the Stanley Cup at home in Game 5.
Stats courtesy of NHL.com.
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