Anaheim Ducks defenseman Ben Lovejoy can barely contain his enthusiasm for the upcoming 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series game between the Ducks and the Los Angeles Kings (Saturday, 9:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC) at Dodger Stadium. In his first edition of the player blog he is doing for NHL.com for the next three days, Lovejoy talks about the history of Dodger Stadium, the uniqueness of playing hockey in Southern California, the rivalry that will be on display Saturday night for the rest of the hockey world to see and a special skate he has planned during Friday's family skate after the Ducks practice.
His second blog entry comes after the Ducks got a chance to practice at Dodger Stadium on Friday:
My first impression arriving at Dodger Stadium was just how cool this all is. We walked out and were able to finally see this iconic building. This is so cool. The rink looks so small in this massive stadium, and everybody is so excited to come out and play a hockey game here. The ice looks so tiny in this cavernous building. The roller rink, the volleyball court, the palm trees in the background, 70-degree weather; everything makes this game unbelievable.
This is a game that has been played in these big-market northern cities; we are going be the first one in a warm climate in Southern California, where hockey is booming and people are truly excited. People are genuinely excited all over North America about this game and we get to play in it.
The family skate after practice was the most special thing I have done this season. I was able to take my wife Avery and my daughter Lila out on the ice and we were able to skate around. I almost wiped out on the ice with her; I hit a rut because I was staring at her rather than paying attention. It was like a Sunday afternoon public skate. There were little kids whipping around out there. You had to have your head on a swivel, paying attention; a little kid might take you out.
That was the coolest thing I have done since being in the NHL. That was truly special. Everybody has family in town, whether it is your girlfriend or wife and kids. It was like going to the town rink on a Friday afternoon. But, at the same time, it was so much cooler because we were doing it at Dodger Stadium.
Tonight was just about hanging out with your family and your teammates and sharing these special moments with them. Tomorrow, for the players, will be about tuning that stuff out and playing a game. We're playing the Los Angeles Kings tomorrow. My wife has been asking me why I'm not more excited about this game and I told her it's because I'm a defenseman going up against the Kings. This is a good team; they want to make me look stupid. They want to beat the crap out of us. It's going to be under a bigger microscope than normal because it is going to be on national TV in front of a crazy amount of fans. You don't want to be the guy to make a mistake. As excited as people are, and as excited I am, we're out here to play hockey Saturday night.
I'm sure things will pick up In the game right where they left off Thursday night when we played in Anaheim. I'm sure it will escalate even more quickly. We know from their comments to the media that they weren't happy with the way they played. We weren't happy with our first period, and in the second and third periods we were able to come out and impose the game we wanted to play upon them. We know that they are going to come out and be very physical against us. We know they are going to want to dictate the pace of play and they are a team that is used to doing that -- and so are we. The emotions will probably be even higher because we did play 48 hours ago and because of how important this game is.
Now I'm going to go out to eat with my family and then they are going to head back to Orange County. Then I'm going to go bed. In the morning, we'll have breakfast, a team meeting in the hotel and then we will have a team stretch because we are not skating. Coach Boudreau feels it's important for us to break a sweat, to mimic a morning skate. You obviously can't create the atmosphere in a hotel ballroom like when you are skating, but we're going to jump on treadmills, jump on the bike, get our legs going and get a stretch and mentally prepare like we would during a normal game day.