Kings defenseman Matt Greene, rear, listens to coach Darryl Sutter during… (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)
NEWARK, N.J. — Every successful rock band has to have a tour slogan when it hits the road. Maybe it's time to extend that to hockey, now that the Kings have sliced their way through Vancouver, St. Louis and Phoenix and one game in New Jersey.
You can almost see the words on the back of a silver and black T-Shirt: "No Sweat Tour, 2012."
Of course, there was perhaps too much sweat in the humid Prudential Center for the opener of the Stanley Cup Final. Kings Coach Darryl Sutter, in his sparse way with words, described the ice as "less than below average."
Still, the Kings became the only the second team to win the opening game of a series, on the road, in each of the four rounds of the playoffs, joining the Minnesota North Stars in Cup lore. The North Stars did it in 1991 at Chicago, St. Louis, Edmonton and Pittsburgh.
Kings fans will hope the commonality with the North Stars ends at that point. Minnesota lost the Final to the Penguins in six games that year and moved to Dallas in 1993.
Game 2 is Saturday night.
The Kings are 9-0 on the road in the playoffs, an NHL record, and Sutter has been consistent in downplaying it. There was little doubt he would be asked again Friday, and he even got around to another of his favorite topics, scheduling.
"I'm aware of it every time you bring it up," Sutter said of the road streak. "Other than that, it's not that important. Heck, you know what, we've been here four or five days. We would have rather played yesterday and went home, right?"
The Kings opened every series on the road this spring and won the first two games each time. Devils goalie Martin Brodeur knows that too well and knows it will be difficult for the Devils if they lose Game 2. However, they did bounce back after losing Game 1 of the second-round series against the Flyers and the opener of the Eastern Conference finals against the Rangers.
"We've been in that position a few times, but it's never a comfortable situation," Brodeur said. "Especially against a stingy team like L.A. is, or other teams that we've played, getting off to an 0-2 start would be a tough one to overcome."
Devils Coach Peter DeBoer dismissed the rules benefit of getting the last player change as the home team when asked if he would try to get Ilya Kovalchuk away from the Kings' shutdown pair of Drew Doughty and Rob Scuderi.
"If they're going to match those guys up in order to get him away, we're going to have to get away from a four-line game, which has been our strength," DeBoer said. "Two, if they're matching up against Kovalchuk, then they're not matching up against [Zach] Pariseor other guys.
"The matchup game isn't something that I'm interested in or worried about. For me, it isn't relevant."
But Kovalchuk saw plenty of the Willie Mitchell-Slava Voynov pair too. He had one shot on goal in Game 1.
"I don't think he was happy with his game," Mitchell said of Kovalchuk. "I don't think I was happy or me and my partner were happy with ours. As a group, as a team, I don't think we played that well. We felt like we were skating in quicksand out there. I think we can play better a lot as a team.
"We found a way, which was good, and we've been finding a way all postseason. We didn't play that well. At all."