By Steve Keating
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Playing the Los Angeles Kings has presented many challenges for the New Jersey Devils and Game Three of the Stanley Cup final on Monday presented them with another one they had not faced in some time - jet lag.
Trailing the best-of-seven finals series 2-0, Monday's game marks the first since a 2-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets way back on January 14 that the Devils have played outside of the Eastern time zone.
In fact, the trip West was the first time the Devils had even been on a plane in more than a month after busing to series against nearby rivals New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers.
"We're pretty fortunate for two series not to get on a plane, going on a bus to Philly, a bus to the Rangers," Devils Andy Greene told reporters at the team hotel.
"It feels good to get back into this routine a little bit, get on the road, kind of get away from home, get back to being just focused on the single thing, the game.
"When you're on the road, there's a lot of less things to worry about. I think it will be a big plus for us tonight."
No doubt the Devils will be trying to capture a little of the road magic that the Kings discovered this post-season going 10-0 away from Staples Center putting them in position to capture a first ever Stanley Cup on home ice if they can sweep Games Three and Four.
The trip has resulted in a shakeup of the Devils normal game day routine, coach Peter DeBoer opting not to put his players through a morning skate.
"Hopefully it plays to our advantage, getting that extra rest, not having those long flights," said Devils captain Zach Parise.
"No one in the East is going through the time changes but not having those get-home-late type of flights.
"Hopefully as the series moves on, that will be to our advantage."
Getting away from home is often seen as a positive by coaches, allowing a team to bond away from the many distractions and obligations to family and friends.
The biggest adjustment will be in the game time with opening faceoff for Games Three and Four moved three hours earlier to accommodate East coast television.
"Probably the biggest difference isn't necessarily the time change, it's the 5pm start," offered DeBoer. "That's something you don't deal with during the regular season at all.
"We're not pregame skating today. We're going to meet here at the hotel. So that throws you off a little bit.
"But, you know, that's a good problem to have if you're dealing with it 'cause you're in the final."
(Editing by Julian Linden)