L.A. Kings fans looking for 'one more win' at home
This post has been changed. Please see note below.
The Kings are so close now, L.A.’s hockey team might finally have its city’s attention.
The team will go for the sweep Wednesday at Staples Center after its 4-0 win Monday night over the New Jersey Devils. If the KIngs win, it would be the first Stanley Cup championship in team history.
"This is euphoric," said J.D. Laske, a longtime fan, after Monday night’s win. "Just to be a part of it is unreal."
The Kings have been on something of a magical run during the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, amassing a 15-2 record thus far. They entered the playoffs as the lowest seed in the conference and proceeded to plow through the competition on their way to the finals.
If they win again Wednesday, they will tie for the best-ever record in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, according to a tweet from the Kings.
The team’s winning ways have gradually caught on in L.A., especially following playoff losses by the Lakers and Clippers. But in South Bay beach towns, a loyal fan base has been supporting the team all along.
All but one of the 24 players on the Kings' roster live in Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach or Redondo Beach, said Mike Altieri, the team's vice president of communications. Altieri said the players, who mostly come from small towns in Canada and Europe, prefer the close-knit feel of the beach communities to the glitz of the Hollywood Hills or the Westside. It's also where the team trains.
"We consider ourselves Kings central — this is the home base," said Richard Montgomery, a Manhattan Beach city councilman. "The players are not just strangers on TV, they are our neighbors and friends."
Many of the players drink at North End Bar and Grill in Hermosa Beach. Players call patrons their neighbors and mingle freely at community events.
Last week, as the Kings were on the road to their first Cup victory, North End patron Jennifer Henriksen proudly pulled out her iPhone and showed off images of players celebrating at the bar a few weeks earlier.
"These boys are just real down-to-earth, solid people," said Henriksen, better known as "Hockey Jen" to bar regulars. "We want to see them have the run of their lives.... Really, it couldn't happen to a more solid, genuine, grounded group of guys."
The Kings had a little more magic in store Monday night, bouncing back from a slow start to storm past the Devils with four goals in the final two periods and roll to the Game 3 win.
After the game, outside Staples Center, the crowd chanted: "One more win!" and "We want the cup!"
[For the record, 1:30 p.m., June 5: An earlier version of this post stated that the game would be televised on NBC. At the moment, it is only planned for broadcast on the less-available NBC Sports Network, according to a Kings spokesman.]
-- Sam Allen and Matt Stevens
Photo: Kings fans at the North End bar in Hermosa Beach cheer a playoff victory. Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times.