Is raising the Stanley Cup next week highly improbable for the New Jersey Devils? Sure.
“We know the odds and the numbers are stacked against us,” Devils captain Zach Parise said on the eve of today’s Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals, which the Los Angeles Kings lead, 3-1.
“It doesn’t bother us. Our plan is to win the second one. All we were thinking about was to get the series back to New Jersey. Now it’s about trying to get back to L.A. (for Game 6).”
The Kings have yet to lose on the road this postseason, winning 10 in a row.
But Los Angeles goalie Jonathan Quick, the runaway favorite to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP, said the 10-0 mark doesn’t matter.
“It’s 0-0,” Quick said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re coming off a win or coming off a loss. Obviously, it’s disappointing any time you lose, no matter what the situation is. As of today it’s 0-0. You’re trying to win Game 1.”
Both teams had to take a difficult path to the finals.
The Kings were the eighth seed in the West and became the second team to beat the top three seeds (Vancouver, St. Louis and Phoenix) on the way to the finals (Calgary, 2003-04). They are one win from becoming the first No. 8 seed to win the Cup under the current playoff format.
The Devils were the sixth seed in the East, and beat No. 3 Florida in the first round, No. 5 Philadelphia in the semifinals and the top-seeded New York Rangers in the conference finals.
“Guys are at this level for a reason, and there is a lot of pride in everyone’s dressing room,” Kings forward Justin Williams said. “We know the Devils have a lot of it. They are not going to give (the Cup) to us. They are a hardworking team who is going to make you battle for everything. That’s when your pride comes out, when your backs are against the wall and it’s do or die.
“It was do or die for them, and they played great.”
New Jersey got a boost from sniper Ilya Kovalchuk getting his first point of the series, an empty-net goal with 19.1 seconds to go in Game 4.
“(We’ve) got a lot of room to improve, but I think we’re headed in the right direction,” Kovalchuk said.
The Devils figure there’s no better way to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Toronto Maple Leafs rallying from a 3-0 deficit to win the Cup than do it against the Kings.
“You know it’s going to happen again, so why not us?” New Jersey coach Peter DeBoer said. “That’s the approach.”
The Glendale, Ariz., city council approved a 20-year lease agreement for Jobing.com Arena on Friday, clearing the last major hurdle in the sale of the Phoenix Coyotes to a group led by former San Jose Sharks CEO Greg Jamison.
The council ratified the 20-year, nearly $325 million agreement by a 4-2 vote after a sometimes-contentious six-hour meeting attended by Jamison, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly.
This could be a major blow to the hopes for Seattle getting an NHL team for the proposed arena south of Safeco Field.