NEW YORK — Marian Gaborik had always envisioned himself winning a Stanley Cup in New York, but he never envisioned himself wearing a black uniform instead of a blue one.
Back in New York for the first time as a Los Angeles King, the former New York Ranger finds himself poised to do just that as the Kings are up 2-0 in the Stanley Cup Final against the Rangers.
"I never imagined that in the past, of course," the Kings’ right winger said. "Not strange, but it’s a little different. Like I said before the series, it was a little weird, but when you hit the ice when the puck drops it’s just like playing any other team."
It was a tumultuous career with a lot of success and a lot of jeers. But the winger is right at home in the other dressing room now, having found instant chemistry and instant success with the Kings.
"He’s been great for us, he’s a great fit to this team both on and off the ice and we love having him here," said Kings defenseman Drew Doughty. "He’s been a big part of our success the whole postseason."
"I’m sure he’s excited," Justin Williams said. "As I said, he’s a guy that wasn’t here (in L.A.) in 2012 and a guy that really wants to the Cup, we’ve got that added incentive to play for him and Regehr and the guys that weren’t here to get a taste of it because we know how great it is."
For Gaborik, there’s a special sense of satisfaction that comes from playing in his first-ever Stanley Cup Final in the place where he was traded from.
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"Just overall it feels great to play in my first Final, that’s for sure," he said. "It’s been a long time coming. I’ve been in the league since 2000. When you get older maybe you appreciate it that [much] more and I’m grateful to play in my first Final. It makes it a little bit more special to play against the Rangers, that’s for sure."
No sleep ’til Stanley
Quit asking the Los Angeles Kings if they’re tired because they aren’t.
After two sluggish starts in the first two games of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final, many pointed to fatigue as a factor. After Game 1, the Kings did say they felt some heavy legs in the first period but that period was quickly put behind them. Now, having played two overtime games and flown across the country, many wanted to know if they were tired after Mondayâs morning skate.
"I don’t buy it," said Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell. "It’s just kind of the rhythm of the playoffs, the rhythm of the season where you kind of have streaks where you’re feeling really good. Somewhere, maybe you’re not as good and you find a way around that."
Mitchell made sure himself – and the team – got adequate rest on the trip out to New York. Mitchell turned a bulkhead row on the team charter into a bed with some blankets and pillows, a photo both himself and the Kings tweeted out.
"There was a bunch of us spooning back there," he joked after the morning skate. "You got to get it when you can. Sometimes when you switch, west coast to east coast, your sleep schedule kind of gets messed up so I’m just a big believer of take it where you can get it."
The playoffs aren’t typically a time when they sleep much anyways, according to Doughty. The excitement level is so high and the adrenaline rarely stops, making it difficult for some (Mitchell excluded) to get regular naps.
"I’m sure it’s weighing on guys’ legs," Doughty said. "But (the Rangers) had to do the same thing. Both guys are on even playing field and there’s no excuses coming from that department."
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