Kings hope numbers continue to go their way

Friday, 06.08.2012 / 5:49 PM / Los Angeles Kings | News
NHL.com

By John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

The Los Angeles Kings are glad that Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final is out of the way. Now they can get on with the business of winning the first championship in franchise history.

L.A. missed its chance for a sweep on Wednesday by losing 3-1 at home to New Jersey. But maybe that loss shouldn't have been a surprise -- after all, the Kings' two previous losses also came in Game 4s, and also at home.

But the Kings take a pair of perfect marks into Game 5 at Prudential Center on Saturday night (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS): They are 10-0 on the road this spring -- and 14-0 in every game that's not a Game 4, including a 2-0 mark in Game 5s. Overall, they are 14-11 in Game 5s, including 10-10 on the road.

New Jersey is 23-16 all-time in Game 5s, including an 11-8 mark at home. They are 2-1 this spring in Game 5s -- all of which have been played away from Prudential Center.

Celebrating on the road -- The Kings missed out on the chance to wrap up the Cup at home on Wednesday, but they'd be more than happy to become the fifth straight team to celebrate a championship on their opponent's ice.

Detroit (2008), Pittsburgh ('09), Chicago ('10) and Boston ('11) all won the Cup away from home -- the last club to win at home was the 2007 Anaheim Ducks.

A Game 5 win by the Kings would wrap up the greatest spring ever for road teams. New Jersey's victory on Wednesday was the 47th by visiting teams this spring; the previous record was 46, set in 1987. Road teams this year are 47-37 (.560); they went 46-41 (.529) 25 years ago.

Staying close -- Ilya Kovalchuk's empty-netter in New Jersey's win on Wednesday night might be enough to keep this year's playoffs from matching or exceeding the record for one-goal games in a single spring. Of the 84 games played so far in this postseason, 49 have been decided by one goal -- but 10 more, including Game 4, wound up as two-goal games because the winning team hit the empty net.

The record for one-goal games in a single playoff year is 51, set in 2007. When Game 2 of the Final went to overtime, this year's total of one-goal decisions jumped into second place -- ahead of the 48 played last year.

Another measure of how tight this spring's playoffs have been is the lack of blowouts. Of the 84 games played so far, just 15 have been decided by three or more goals. That's the fewest since 1999, when only 14 of the 81 games played were won by three or more goals.

Year of the goalie -- The first four games of the Final have featured sensational goaltending by New Jersey's Martin Brodeur and L.A.'s Jonathan Quick, who’ve combined to allow just 13 goals (plus an empty-netter). That's an average of 3.50 goals per game by the two teams.

The last time a Stanley Cup Final saw fewer goals was 1952, when Detroit swept Montreal and outscored the Canadiens 11-2 for a combined average of 3.25 goals in the four games. Hall of Famer Terry Sawchuk allowed single goals in the first two games before blanking the Canadiens in Games 3 and 4 that year.

One for the underdog? -- A victory on Saturday (or in a Game 6 or 7) would give the Kings:

  • They would be the lowest-seeded team ever to win the Cup. L.A. finished 13th in the overall standings with 95 points. Before this year, the lowest seed to win the Cup was the 1995 Devils, who finished ninth in the overall standings. Should they rally to take the Cup, this year's Devils would match that feat -- they were ninth in this season's overall standings as well.
  • The Kings' 95 points would be the fewest for a Cup-winner in the shootout era, and the fewest since the 1997 Detroit Red Wings swept Philadelphia after earning 94 points during the regular season.
  • L.A. would become just the 15th team since the best-of-seven format was adopted in 1939 to win the Cup by beating a club that finished ahead of it in the regular-season standings -- but the second in as many years. Before Boston topped Vancouver last year, the team with more points had won the Final every year since 1997.
  • If the Kings win Saturday, they'll break the single-season record for most wins by a road team with 11 -- and their 11-0 record away from home figures to be one that could stand for a long time. They would also extend their record for consecutive road victories to 13.
  • The Kings are the 26th team to win the first three games of the Final, and just the sixth to lose Game 4. A victory on Saturday would make them the fourth to turn a 3-0 lead into a five-game series victory. If that happens, they'll have accomplished something that's never been done before: No team has won the first three games of the Final, lost Game 4 at home and won Game 5 on the road.