The Los Angeles Kings hardly sounded daunted on Sunday.
Sure, they had lost two games in a row and allowed the New Jersey Devils back into the Stanley Cup finals, but they were also right in both games, within a bounce or two of sending them to overtime or winning them outright.
“We’ve had some good chances,” Anze Kopitar said. “We’ve hit the post quite a bit of times last couple games. Making chances again. Making sure when we create them, we have to finish them off.”
“We’re hitting posts, we’re creating chances,” Drew Doughty added. “Eventually those are going to go in.”
The Kings mantra has been to be “keep doing what we’re doing” entering Game 6 on Monday, and looking back over the numbers from Games 4 and 5, that seems to be the right approach.
While shots on goal were relatively equal, LA had the puck more often than the Devils in both games, leading in shot attempts 58-45 on Wednesday and then 60-38 on Saturday.
Stanley Cup final games by shot attempts
Problem was, a lot of those attempts were either blocked or missed the net (which is what a post would be counted as). In the last two games, the Kings had 33 shots blocked and missed the net with 37 more – drastically higher than the 24 and 16 for the Devils.
Some of that is coming as New Jersey makes a concerted effort to force shots wide, but there’s also a puck luck factor here that hasn’t gone the Kings way.
With so little separating these two teams, it stands to reason the team finding a way to gain possession of the puck and direct it toward the net more often has a higher probability of winning right now.
Which is likely why Kings coach Darryl Sutter hardly sounds like a worried man despite the two losses.
“We’re at a really good place,” Sutter said. “How did we get here? I mean, we’ve been in a good series, that’s for sure. We thought we played a heck of a game [Saturday] night. I said it after the game to some of the guys that were there: We got breaks the first two games, they got breaks the last two games, right?
“We start again. Try and recreate that again [in Game 6]. If we play as well as we did [Saturday] night, I like our team.”
Shot attempts breakdown Games 4 and 5