Meister: Kings’ Game 4 loss will benefit them in the long run

Sean Meister, Contributing Writer
@SeanyMeist

After a surprising 11-1 start to the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Los Angeles Kings had gone from gritty underdog to being Stanley Cup favourites.

Few have wanted to bet against Jonathan Quick, Dustin Brown, and a Darryl Sutter system that has embarrassed and dominated the top teams in the Western Conference.

The Los Angeles Kings’ depth has been a key factor to their success. (Cassie Storring/CM)

It is because of this success and new found public confidence, that the Game 4 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes was the best thing to happen to the Kings so far in these playoffs. No team can win the Stanley Cup without adversity. The Kings have cruised through the playoffs with relative ease, and that is in no way a positive thing.

There is no more difficult trophy to win in professional sport than the Stanley Cup. The road is grueling and without guarantees, especially in the new age team parity.

In the NHL, confidence is a necessary part of victory; over-confidence is the key ingredient to failure.

Being shut out by Mike Smith, and having veteran Shane Doan dominate them, is an excellent lesson in humility for a team with very little playoff experience. Not only can Quick be beaten, but the seemingly unstoppable offense can, in fact, be shut down.

If anything, the Kings’ chance to win the Cup has been strengthened by the loss. The team now has to bounce back from a fairly poor outing. They have to refocus on the aspects of their game that have made them such a dominant force. Getting away from what has worked is what makes over-confidence and lack of adversity such a dangerous thing. The Kings have stuck to a game plan in order to be successful. A loss forces them to focus harder on those details.

All season, the Kings have succeeded as the underdog, despite predictions before the season. Their play cost a coach his job. They had to scratch their way into the eighth seed, and were very close to an early golf season, rather than a Stanley Cup run.

Going into Game 5, the Kings have everything to prove.

No matter how well the Kings have played, the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils’ rosters are full of veteran experience and Stanley Cup success. Both teams have the potential to force a long series against the Kings. For any team, it is better to face, and overcome, adversity when up 3-0 in the Conference Finals, than when the Cup is in the arena waiting to make an entrance. And the Kings can be assured that they will face significant adversity against either the Rangers or Devils.

If Dustin Brown is hoisting the Stanley Cup over his head in a few weeks, I’ll be pointing to this Game 4 loss, more than any victory, as the moment everything changed in the Kings’ favour.

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