From Vancouver to St. Louis, on to Phoenix and now New Jersey, the Los Angeles Kings have been able to jump on their opponents and take away any advantage the fired-up arenas would be expected to give the home team.
The excitement builds outside and inside the raucous buildings, and what should be a pure rush of adrenaline, can sometimes turn into a wave of nerves that can rattle even the best of players.
Whatever the cause, the Kings -- the No. 8 seed out of the West -- have capitalized on every possible thing they can while playing away from home. They are a record 9-0 on the road in these playoffs, and are lengthening another record with 11 straight playoff wins in enemy arenas, dating to last season.
The Kings took a 1-0 lead over the Devils in the Stanley Cup finals with a 2-1 overtime win on Wednesday night on a goal by Anze Kopitar, spoiling New Jersey's first chance in these playoffs to open a series at home.
"You've just got to come ready to play." Los Angeles defenseman Matt Greene said Thursday, after the Kings held an optional practice. "It's the finals. You're going to be jacked up, you're going to be nervous. You could have this game anywhere in the world and I think guys are going to be nervous going into it just because of what's on the line and where you're at and what's at stake."
The Kings seemed as focused as can be as they roll through the playoffs. They are 13-2 so far, and haven't been stretched past five games in any of their first three series wins over the top three-seeded teams in the Western Conference.
Los Angeles has led 3-0 in each series and shows no signs of letting up. The Kings have managed to get plenty of rest throughout the postseason as they have often been forced to wait for their next opponent to emerge from the previous round.
"Our guys said today they felt sluggish," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. "If that was nerves, then so it was. Our guys felt they could play better. That's a good thing. I'm sure the other team is saying the same thing, too."
After knocking out the Phoenix Coyotes with an overtime win in Game Five May 22, the Kings had a seven-day break before facing off against the Devils. Now after just one game, the series has two off days before Game Two Saturday.
"It's a funny setup again," Sutter said. "We only played one game in four days since we got here. "So now, it's get ready for Saturday."
"I think both teams were pretty nervous," Kings captain Dustin Brown said. "There is a lot of guys who haven't been on this stage in the Stanley Cup finals. Nerves definitely played a part in Game One."
Lidstrom calls it a career
DETROIT -- Nicklas Lidstrom is so used to being great that the star defenseman refused to settle for just being good.
Lidstrom retired after 20 quietly spectacular seasons with the Detroit Red Wings, leaving a legacy of greatness on and off the ice along with perhaps another $6 million he could have made with another one-year deal.
The four-time Stanley Cup champion and seven-time Norris Trophy winner fought back tears as he made the announcement Thursday. He said he knew it was time to end one of the best careers in NHL history when he started to work out recently.
"My drive and motivation are not where they to need to be to play at this level," Lidstrom said.
The 42-year-old Swede set an NHL record by playing 1,564 games with a single team.
"I've been dreading this day since I became manager in 1997," Red Wings General Manager Ken Holland said.
Flames pick Hartley
CALGARY, Alberta -- Bob Hartley is back in the NHL. What's surprising is it's with the Calgary Flames.
The Montreal Canadiens seemed a likely destination for the Stanley Cup winner because of Hartley's roots in Ontario and his French-speaking background. Hartley was in discussions with the Canadiens and some already had his arrival in Montreal a foregone conclusion.
But the 51-year-old coach signed a three-year contract Thursday with the Flames, a stalled franchise that hasn't made the playoffs in three years. He replaces Brent Sutter after Sutter and the club parted company in April.
Hartley and Flames General Manager Jay Feaster have a close relationship from their days together with the AHL's Hershey Bears.