If momentum carried from one game to the next, all playoff series would be sweeps.
That was the sentiment of Kings coach Darryl Sutter when asked Thursday if the Rangers’ 2-1 win in Wednesday’s Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final swung the momentum of the best-of-seven series that the Kings lead three games to one.
Not a single member of the Kings organization expressed any preference about where they would rather win the Stanley Cup. The possibility of closing out the series at home in tonight’s Game 5 didn’t sound sweeter to anybody in purple and black.
“I don’t care where it is or how many games it takes, I just want to win,” center Tyler Toffoli said. “You have to be focused and ready to do whatever it takes to win a game. It doesn’t matter how loud the fans are in the end.”
Game 4 was simply a missed opportunity, according to Kings coach Darryl Sutter. If the Kings win a fourth game in the series, whether it’s in Staples Center or Madison Square Garden is not important.
“No, it’s not,” Kings right wing Justin Williams said. “Just win. That’s with a big period and an exclamation point after it. Just win. I don’t care where it is. Win one more.”
The hockey gods New York Rangers coach Alain Vigneault has referenced throughout the Stanley Cup Final made their presence felt at Madison Square Garden Wednesday night. Specifically, they seemed to spend most of their time on his team’s goal line, where two potential Kings goals were spectacularly denied in the Rangers’ 2-1 win in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final.
Given their first opportunity to dwell on poor “puck luck,” the Kings weren’t wallowing after their practice on Thursday.
“Puck luck is for cop-outs,” Kings right wing Justin Williams said. “I don’t believe in that at all. I’m a true believer that you get what you put into it and (Wednesday) night we simply weren’t good enough and we didn’t get the pay-off.”
Once in the first period of Game 4 and again with a little more than a minute to play in the game, two Kings shots came to a halt behind Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist without crossing the goal line. Each would have tied the game.
The play on which the Kings scored their lone goal didn’t exactly begin in conventional fashion, something Vigneault was quick to point out upon being informed of Williams’ comments about puck luck. Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi’s stick broke, setting up Dustin Brown’s breakaway goal that pulled the Kings within a goal in the second period.
“Whether you call it hockey gods or hockey plays or whatever, like when Dan was shooting the puck from the point and the knob of his stick stays in his hand, you can call that a hockey play or you can call it whatever you want,” Vigneault said. “It doesn’t matter to me. Those are things that happen. Bounces happen during the game.”
The Kings were on an airplane for five hours and 22 minutes after Game 4 by coach Darryl Sutter’s count, arriving in Los Angeles at exactly 3 a.m. Thursday morning.
The Kings coach gave his players the option to practice Thursday afternoon or Friday morning before Game 5. The consensus was that the Kings much preferred to return home and sleep in their own beds. Even the plane ride had it’s perks.
“I had a good Chilean Seabass,” Kings center Jarett Stoll said. “It was great, actually. Got a good three hours of sleep.”
The Rangers remained in New York Wednesday night and flew to Los Angeles on Thursday.
Though Kings coach Darryl Sutter said Friday Robyn Regehr would probably play in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final, the defenseman was held out of his 15th consecutive game Saturday.
Regehr suffered an unspecified knee injury in Game 1 of the second-round series against the Ducks thanks to a hit from Teemu Selanne, but declared himself fit to play prior to Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday.
“I feel ready,” Regehr said at the Kings’ morning skate on Wednesday. “It just comes down to a coach’s decision. I feel good. I’ve had a chance to practice a little bit and get a little bit of contact.”
Sutter explained that his reasoning for holding Regehr out of Game 1 was in part due to the odd Stanley Cup Final schedule allowing him two off-days to heal before Saturday’s Game 2. Turns out Regehr’s knee may be injured worse than originally thought given that he was scratched again for a game of such importance.