LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 06: The New Jersey Devils celebrate their 3-1 win as Justin Williams #14 of the Los Angeles Kings skates off after Game Four of the 2012 Stanley Cup Final at Staples Center on June 6, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Should Kings fans be worried now that they've finally lost and face another potential nail-biter on New Jersey's home ice? Yes and no. But mostly no.
It's not over. Not yet.
The Stanley Cup's silhouette has taken perch next to the HOLLYWOOD sign, and the celebrities have gone out to the Staples Center to be seen in the reflected light of the Los Angeles Kings' glory, but the party will have to wait.
In yet another close game that saw lengthy stretches of the Kings controlling play without scoring, the New Jersey Devils have postponed the celebrations for L.A.'s first Stanley Cup. With a 3-1 win in Game 4, the Devils forced the series back to New Jersey, where they hope to force further Kings discomfort while enjoying the comfort of home fans in Newark.
Should the Kings be worried? Yes and no. But mostly no.
For one, the Kings have been here before, staking 3-0 series leads in all four series during this magical playoff run. Three previous times, a fifth game became necessary. It's not a big deal. (In fact, the only time the Kings completed the sweep -- heh, "only," -- was against arguably their toughest opponent this spring, the St. Louis Blues.)
So the Kings will not get to share the honor of the quickest route to a Stanley Cup win in the four rounds of best-of-seven era. That claim was and remains solely the Edmonton Oilers, who went 16-2 on their way to the crown in 1988.
And the Kings may not get the joy of winning it all in front of their home fans -- a fine perk to be sure, but one that pales in relation to just winning the thing whatever way you can.
Now, if you want to search for concerns, you could point out the low-scoring Kings have "only" scored nine goals in four games of this series, and just 15 goals in their last seven games going back to the Western Conference final with the Phoenix Coyotes.
You could point out that three of the games have been knife's edge close -- with the first two requiring overtime. Theoretically, this series could easily be 3-1 for the Devils instead. And hey, if the Devils pull off another one at home, suddenly the proverbial pressure is on the Kings to finish it out at home and avoid a history-tempting Game 7 back in New Jersey.
But hockey is simply a close game these days. The best teams are subject to fates and twists that feel like coin flips. The Kings have controlled play for the majority of this finals series -- as they have through the majority of their playoffs -- and the odds usually go with the teams who fit that description.
More than that though, erasing 3-0 series deficits is just plain hard -- precisely because of such coin flips. Even if a trailing team like the Devils does everything it can and should in Games 4 through 7, the odds still favor a night where the puck doesn't bounce their way.
Wednesday night, fortune was finally on the Devils' side. Kings fans needn't worry about it staying there too long.