Quick getaway leaves LA Kings fresh for Game 3
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) — Darryl Sutter rushed the Los Angeles Kings out of their locker room in Newark on Saturday night as if they were fleeing the scene of a crime.
The Kings coach was just in a hurry to get home, and that's what his club did: On the plane by midnight, wheels up by 1 a.m. Eastern time, and in their beds back on the West Coast shortly after 4 a.m. Pacific.
"Hey, every minute counts," Sutter said Sunday after the Kings reported for a relaxed meeting at their training complex.
Sutter's Kings do this type of traveling all the time, with roughly a dozen cross-country flights interspersed among the usual lengthier schedule of Western Conference teams. The New Jersey Devils hardly ever get this type of transcontinental road test, but both teams think it's unlikely to be a factor in the Stanley Cup finals.
While the Kings played their first three rounds in Vancouver, St. Louis and blessedly close Phoenix, the Devils hadn't even been on a plane since April 26. New Jersey could use ground transportation for the 90-mile commute to Philadelphia in the second round, followed by the virtual train ride to Madison Square Garden for the Eastern Conference finals.
Although the Kings don't expect any extra edge in Game 3 on Monday night, they realize how difficult the move can be for teams who aren't used to it. The Boston Bruins lost the first two games of last season's finals on the road in Vancouver, playing their worst two games of the season, before rallying to win the Stanley Cup.
"Travel in the West, it's a little longer and tougher," Kings forward Anze Kopitar said. "You change a lot more time zones, but it's not going to matter. You still have to prepare yourself to play your best."
DEVILISH INSPIRATION: Drew Doughty says the New Jersey Devils can blame one of their former stars for the inspiration behind his highlight-reel goal in Game 2.
Doughty put the Kings on top with a spectacular end-to-end rush, treating all five Devils like practice cones before firing a shot past Martin Brodeur.
When the talented defenseman was told his goal recalled Scott Niedermayer's red-line-to-red-line goal for New Jersey in Game 2 of the 1995 Stanley Cup finals against Detroit, Doughty — who was 5 at the time — readily agreed, citing that score as an influential moment of his youth.
"I was happy I could do that," Doughty said. "It's not too often you get to score a highlight-reel goal as a D-man."
Doughty knew all about Niedermayer's goal because he was a fan of Brodeur and the Devils while growing up in Ontario. But Doughty's favorites since birth have always been the Kings and their star at the time: Wayne Gretzky.
That rebound goal signaled Niedermayer's arrival as one of the NHL's top defensemen. Doughty already has been a Norris Trophy finalist, but isn't as well-known as other elite NHL blueliners while playing on the West Coast.
"I'm having a lot of fun right now," he said. "I know in order for our team to be successful, I've got to be the best defenseman on the ice every night. Even though I put that pressure on myself, I'm having fun. I think that's when I'm at my best. I'm enjoying coming to the rink every day, being in this moment in the spotlight."
NOT TOO EMBARRASSING: Although Ilya Kovalchuk says the New Jersey Devils' power play was "embarrassing" in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals, he should take a look at the team that's beating them.
Sports Photo Galleriesview all
- 54680Oklahoma tornadoes: 'It took it all'
- 35701Oklahoma weather: Crews work to clear storm damage in Oklahoma City as the state braces for severe weather Sunday.
- 32594Oklahoma Severe Storm Updates
- 8907Wild hogs continue to be a growing menace across Oklahoma
- 8388Oklahoma State football: Limiting Wes Lunt's transfer options makes Mike Gundy look bad
- 5554Oklahoma City Thunder: What could Serge Ibaka learn from Hakeem Olajuwon?
- 4146OKC Thunder GM Sam Presti won't amnesty Kendrick Perkins