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Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Devils can catch up if they get cracking

L.A. hasn't exactly dominated series

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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Kings are in good position right now but if they don't find their top game in a hurry this series could look a lot different very quickly.

After stretching out the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final, the series will gain pace here with two games in the next three days.

Game 3 is tonight (7 p.m., CBC) at Staples Center and will feature Wayne Gretzky handling a ceremonial pre-game faceoff.

The Kings managed to win both games in Jersey but didn't look near as impressive as they had previously in the playoffs. The fact they've now played just 15 games in the last 57 days has begun to show. The Devils, one can argue, have been better in many ways so far in the series. Coach Pete DeBoer was defiant in his defence of the way his team has played.

"Who said we've been dominated? What were they drinking? Must have been someone from L.A.," said DeBoer. "Look, it's been two one-goal games and shots have been pretty even. We know we can play with them. Game 2, I think, we played 50 per cent better than Game 1. And we still think we have more left in the tank."

Kings centre Mike Richards hopes the return home will help the Kings.

"We have to try and harness the energy of Staples Center and keep it alive," said Richards. "It's one of the loudest rinks I've ever played in. It's going to be exciting. You can feel the energy."

Richards thinks the slow pace of the final has dragged his team down a bit, but believes the Kings are ready to break out.

"I think in Game 1 you could really see it. It does get you out of rhythm, not playing a lot of hockey games. In March and April you play all those games and you get your legs under you and you really handle the puck a lot," said Richards. "Playing again right away should be good for us."

One area the Kings would like to improve is their power play.

"I think it's one of those things you should stay focused on. Our percentage is not going to be good regardless, but we have opportunities ahead of us on the power play. You look at our power play thus far this whole post-season, we haven't scored many goals. But the goals we have scored have been really key goals, dating to the very first series against Vancouver."

 

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @garylawless

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 4, 2012 C3

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