The Ducks and Kings have had plenty in common over the years, and as they renew their rivalry tonight, they share an unenviable position in the standings.
Both Anaheim and LA are on the outside looking in when it comes to playoff position in the Honda West division, with the Ducks pulling up the rear at 14-25-7 (35 points). The Kings are still gripping onto an outside shot at reaching that fourth-place playoff position, with a 16-20-6 record (38 points) that has them seven points back of the Coyotes with three games in hand.
The Kings' quest for that late-season push was delayed when their April 16 and 18 games with the front-running Colorado Avalanche were postponed because three Colorado players entered the NHL's COVID protocols.
While the Ducks have enjoyed two home games with fans back in the seats in a limited capacity, tonight is the first game the Kings will have spectators in the arena. Like at Honda Center, attendance will be just under 2,000 fans to adhere to state and county regulations. Info on tickets and health guidelines are here.
While both teams are likely to miss the playoffs, the rivalry remains intense, according to Ducks coach Dallas Eakins. "It just comes naturally," Eakins said. "I love how the American League [AHL] is set up. The teams are taught to hate each other there and then you grow together and you get to do it at the NHL level, too. It's one of a handful of rivalries, whether it's in their rink or our rink, or if they wanted to come over here this afternoon and we throw the nets out in the parking lot, it would be on. It's a great rivalry."
Tonight's battle at Staples Center will be LA's first game action since last Wednesday vs. Vegas. And therein lies something else the Ducks and Kings have in common -- recent struggles against the Golden Knights. The Ducks are coming off 4-0 and 5-2 losses to Vegas at Honda Center, though Anaheim at least outshot the Golden Knights 35-29 Sunday afternoon after getting dramatically outshot 51-16 two nights prior.
Vegas, meanwhile, went into the series in Anaheim coming off 4-2 and 6-2 victories over the Kings in LA, as the Golden Knights have reeled off six straight wins.
The Kings are no doubt anxious to get back to it, as they host the Ducks for a rare one-gamer in a season where two-games sets have been the norm. The two SoCal rivals will have to get used to each other starting tonight, the first of five meetings over the next 12 days. The first three of those are at Staples Center, which is probably fine for the Ducks, who have a decent 9-9-3 road record and an eye-opening 5-16-4 mark at Honda Center. The Ducks face the Kings in five of their next six games after facing off just three times so far this season.
Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf comes into tonight still seven points shy of tying Teemu Selanne (988) for Anaheim's all-time points record with 10 games to go.
Following tonight's contest, Anaheim won't play again until it returns home to host Vegas at Honda Center on Saturday (6 p.m. PT).