The Los Angeles Kings find themselves beginning play on Wednesday night with a chance to put the Vancouver Canucks in lock down mode. The Kings lead the best-of-seven series 2-1 and will look to push the Canucks to the brink of elimination when they host Game Four at Staples Center.
Tuesday saw the team practice briskly, with only one minor change coming in the form of defenseman Randy Jones replacing Peter Harrold as a partner with Jack Johnson. Jones had a bad giveaway that eventually led to the Canucks overtime-winner in Game One, and his play in his own end has made many Kings’ fans reach for hair coloring products to hide the sudden sprouting of gray.
Kings head coach Terry Murray was very coy about whether it was due to an injury that Harrold was coming out of the lineup. But a check of the stats from Game Three shows that Harrold did not play a single second of the third period, and seem to skate without issue during practice on Tuesday.
The Kings have had a 2-1 lead in a best-of-seven series five times before in their club history:
- In their first ever playoff series in 1968, they led the Minnesota North Stars 2-1. They lost Game Four on the road 3-2 and eventually lost the series in seven.
- In 1976, they led the Boston Bruins 2-1 in the NHL Quarterfinals, after having swept the Atlanta Flames two straight in a best-of-three. The Bruins shut out the Kings at The Forum in Game Four 3-0 and would eventually win the series in seven games.
- In 1990, the Kings had a 2-1 lead on the defending Stanley Cup champion Calgary Flames in the Smythe Division Semifinals. They blasted the Flames 12-4 in Game Four and would eventually win that series in six games, before being swept by eventual Stanley Cup winner Edmonton four straight in the next round.
- During the run to the 1993 Finals, the Kings led Vancouver 2-1 in the division finals. The Canucks won Game Four at The Forum to even the series in a 7-2 romp, but the Kings rallied to win Game Five in double overtime and eventually the series in six games
- In the next round in 1993 against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Kings had a 2-1 series lead and lost Game Four at home 4-2. They lost Game Five in Toronto in overtime to fall behind in the series, but as most Kings’ fans know rallied behind Wayne Gretzky’s Game Six OT winner to stun the Maple Leafs in a Game Seven triumph for the club’s only conference championship.
It’s worth noting that the Kings had a 2-1 lead in the 1982 Smythe Division Semifinals, which were a Best-of-Five scenario. That Game Three victory which gave them the series lead was the famous ‘Miracle on Manchester’ triumph against the Edmonton Oilers in which they rallied from a 5-0 deficit to win 6-5 in overtime. The Kings lost Game Four, but won the deciding Game Five in Edmonton to win the series. So the Kings have won four straight times in which they entered Game Four of a series leading 2-1.
The team will have a morning skate Wednesday at Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo at 10AM, while the Canucks are scheduled to do the same at Staples Center. Fans are again encouraged to arrive early and be as loud as possible while wearing all black to show your support.
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