No real news out of the morning skates in Newark. Both the Kings and the Devils warmed up their legs and had media sessions. Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final airs on NBC starting at 5 p.m., with the puck dropped about 5:15. The Kings lead the series 3-1 and are one win away from skating with the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history, which dates to 1967.
Rich Hammond, who blogs for the team's website as LA Kings Insider, notes that this will be the fourth game in eight days for the teams, with three cross-country flights in there for the Kings. "It’s fair to assume that most every player is dealing with some type of bump or bruise, if not something more serious," Hammond writes. "Nobody is going to be 100 percent, in terms of health and energy, but the team that can push through that better will have an edge going forward."
Hammond notes that he was put into the exact same hotel room for this trip as he had last trip to New Jersey. "Tends to happen more than one might think," he says.
* Kings lose: The Kings played better in New Jersey on Saturday than they had in LA last game, but the Devils again won most of the battles for the puck and made fewer mistakes. Final score 2-1 Devils, with the first goal a direct result of Kings goalie Jonathan Quick misplaying a puck behind the goal line. The Kings continued to have trouble escaping their zone, but at least they put on more offensive pressure tonight. Forward Justin Williams had the best game for the Kings, scoring the play and nearly some others, but concern about the play of captain Dustin Brown has jumped to full-on alarm. Visibly slow, he was moved off the first line late in the game and didn't play at all in the last three-plus minutes with the game on the line. Hockey teams and players don't acknowledge injuries or fatigue at this stage of the playoffs, but something's up. LA Times beat writer Lisa Dillman tweeted after the game, "For those asking why Dustin Brown was not out there for the final 3:56...these things usually come out at the end of a series."
The loss, by the way, ends the Kings' perfect run of playoff wins on the road. It's also the first time since 1945 that a team already down 3-0 in a final series has come back to force a Game 6. That will be Monday at Staples Center, with the Kings once again able to claim the Stanley Cup with a victory.
Photo of Kings broadcaster Daryl Evans interviewing Rich Hammond, by Howard Berger of BergerBytes.ca