With the Kings just one win away from their championship since joining the NHL in 1967, Phil Pritchard, the "Keeper of the Cup," and his best friend, a nearly three-foot tall silver chalice, were in attendance this evening at the STAPLES Center to take in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final.
On second thought, perhaps that was the problem.
The Devils, led by a brilliant shot by rookie Adam Henrique that skimmed off the near-side post and past Jonathan Quick late in the third period, extended the 2011-12 season by three days with a 3-1 victory. The win forced a fifth game 2,435 miles away on Saturday and reinforced an interesting coincidence in recent years: with Lord Stanley's Cup at stake, the home team may be in trouble.
Since 2008, the home team is now 2-6 when either side is on the verge of clinching the series. Furthermore, the last four Stanley Cup champions have celebrated on the other team's ice.
Tonight, the Kings' attempt to buck that trend went about as well as this attempted hit, a big swing and a miss (h/t to Travis Hughes of SBNation for the .GIF):
The only two instances where home ice was defended came in a pair of Game 6 situations. Each time the same team, Pittsburgh in 2009 and Boston in 2011, then went on the road to win Game 7.
Now, of course, if this trend really were something of substance, the Kings would in turn win Saturday's Game 5 and bring the Cup back to Los Angeles. Wait, you mean the same Kings team who is a perfect 8-0 in these playoffs? Yikes.
With three of the four games thus far turning on the slightest of margins, it is a wonder that Mr. Pritchard and the Stanley Cup were in attendance so soon. But if recent history is any indicator, expect to see him shortly after the final horn of Game 5. That is, assuming he gets his Discover card to work in time.