By Kyle Shohara
|"It's going to be fun playing out there. I remember the rookie games being pretty crowded. That was a lot fun and I can imagine how it's going to be tonight." -- Hampus Lindholm
Though the Ducks and Kings have yet to meet in the postseason, you can guarantee there will be a playoff-type atmosphere inside Honda Center tonight for the first of five meetings between the crosstown rivals.
Tonight will be game No. 113 all-time against the Kings and the 56th at home. In addition, the Ducks (18-7-4, .690 win/points percentage) and Kings (17-7-4, .679 win/points percentage) currently have a combined record of 35-14-8 (.684 winning/points percentage), which marks the best combined record the two clubs have had when facing each other all-time.
Ben Lovejoy experienced the rivalry for the first time last season, and today he compared it to the legendary battles between the Penguins and Flyers. Lovejoy started his career with Pittsburgh and played in five games against the Flyers as a member of the Pens.
“I think it’s very similar,” he said. “They’ve been doing it a little longer, but these are two bitter rivals. These are the games on our calendar we circle and know are coming. We were a little better this morning during the pregame skate just because we’re playing the Kings tonight.”
Hockey in Southern California has grown so much that this is really the crown jewel of hockey in this area. Ben Lovejoy
Adds Lovejoy, “It’s just two really good teams playing against each other. This is one of those games where, no matter how you’re feeling, you’re excited for it. You know the crowd is going to be into it, you know your teammates are going to be into it, and you know [the Kings] are going to be into it. Hockey in Southern California has grown so much that this is really the crown jewel of hockey in this area. Tonight will be a normal battle against these guys and a good preparation for the game at Dodger Stadium.
“I’m sure eventually we’ll meet in the playoffs, but for right now, this is as bitter as it comes,” he said. “We’ve got Dustin Penner on our side this year. That will be a big momentum shift for us.”
Rookie defenseman Hampus Lindholm got a taste of the rivalry earlier this year in the form of two SoCal Hockey Futures Games against Kings prospects in September. The teams played twice, once in front of a raucous Honda Center crowd and again two days later at the Kings’ practice facility in El Segundo.
“It’s going to be fun playing out there,” he said. “I remember the rookie games being pretty crowded. That was a lot of fun and I can just imagine how it’s going to be tonight. I’m excited.”
Lindholm, 19, also played in the second of two preseason games against the Kings, scoring the Ducks’ lone goal (on the power play) in their 2-1 loss at Staples Center on September 24.
“We really want the first one, so it’s going to be a good one tonight,” he said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun. A rivalry like this will almost make it feel like a playoff game. There will be a lot of emotions out there, so we’re going to work hard for this one. We just need to get out there and get the win.”
Bryan Allen wasn’t on the ice, but head coach Bruce Boudreau said his game status wasn’t contingent on whether he skated this morning or not.
“He’ll be a game-time decision,” he said. “He’ll take [pregame] warmup and we’ll see. We wanted to give him until the last minute. We didn’t want him to push it out there. He’ll push it in warmup and he’ll give us an indication.”
Francois Beauchemin also wasn’t on the ice, and Boudreau said he can’t give a timeline on his approximate return until he starts skating.
I don’t know if it’s dislike, hatred, or the Kings wanting to be the number one team in Southern California. But, it brings the best and worst out of the fans and best and worst out of the players. It should be an interesting game. Bruce Boudreau
ON THE KINGS
“It’s a great rivalry,” said Boudreau. “I don’t know if it’s dislike, hatred, or the Kings wanting to be the number one team in Southern California. But, it brings the best and worst out of the fans and best and worst out of the players. It should be an interesting game.”
Tonight will be the second of back-to-backs for the Kings, who handed the Blues just their fifth regulation loss of the season last night in L.A.
“We watched the San Jose game and thought they should’ve won that game,” Boudreau said. “They definitely deserved to win last night’s game. There’s a reason why they’ve only lost one game in their last 12 or 13. They call those things a trap game, and I see where that would be. It was Calgary’s second game in back-to-backs and [the Kings] were looking forward to playing San Jose and St. Louis. I’d venture to guess they’re allowed a mulligan on that one.
“They’re just a very good team that won the Stanley Cup. Last year, if they didn’t get so beat up in the previous two series, they would’ve beat Chicago and won the Stanley Cup again last year.”
The Ducks and Kings will play five times this season, highlighted by the 2014 Stadium Series game on Jan. 25 at Dodger Stadium. Anaheim is 49-41-22 all-time against Los Angeles, including a 29-13-13 home record. The Ducks have outscored the Kings in the all-time series, 319-311 (shootout goals excluded). Teemu Selanne leads the Ducks in career scoring vs. the Kings, earning 118 points (52g/66a) in 102 games. Captain Ryan Getzlaf enters tonight's game on a four-game scoring streak vs. Los Angeles, earning four points (2g/2a) since Mar. 16, 2012.