Thursday, June 07, 2012

Kings' broom not quite big enough, but history still on their side

by Bob Herpen
Phanatic Hockey Editor

They say the fourth win is the hardest to get, especially so when you're up 3-0 in the Stanley Cup Finals.

I don't know where "they" came up with this, or why others parrot what "they" said, but as usual, the "they" who spout a lot of supposed conventional wisdom are totally off base.

So the Los Angeles Kings failed to sweep away the New Jersey Devils at home on Wednesday night, dropping a 3-1 decision which means they'll get another chance to win it all on the road -- where, coincidentally they're 10-0 and have a shot to break the all-time NHL record for road victories in one postseason -- this coming Saturday in Newark.

The degree of difficulty in closing out the terminal series after holding your opponent winless while you've won three straight can be argued. What can't be, is that it's apparently not so tough to pick up that fourth win in succession for the Stanley Cup.

Since the dawn of the expansion era in 1967, there have been 15 Finals which saw one club take the first three games and have the opportunity for a sweep. Twelve of those series ended in the fourth game:

1968  Montreal vs. St. Louis
1969  Montreal vs. St. Louis
1970  Boston vs. St. Louis
1976  Montreal vs. Philadelphia
1977  Montreal vs. Boston
1982  Islanders vs. Canucks
1983  Islanders vs. Oilers
1992  Penguins vs. Blackhawks
1995  Devils vs. Red Wings
1996  Avalanche vs. Panthers
1997  Red Wings vs. Flyers
1998  Red Wings vs. Capitals

Only the Islanders in 1981 against the North Stars and the Kings this year have failed to do so. New York, which lost Game 4 in Bloomington, eventually returned to Nassau Coliseum and closed out Minnesota in Game 5 for their second straight title.

The 1988 Oilers were the victims of a technicality, as power failure at the Boston Garden in the second period of Game 4 forced the postponement of a 3-3 tie and forced Edmonton back home, where it was triumphant in Game 5.

To steal from Pete Townshend, the Kings are all right. There's a long way to go before the approach to the fate which befell the 1942 Detroit Red Wings.
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