By Kyle Shohara
LOS ANGELES – The 2014-15 Freeway Faceoff will get a little sunshine this afternoon as the Ducks and Kings square off in a one o’clock matchup here at Staples Center in Downtown Los Angeles. Anaheim earned a 5-1 victory in its first matinee of the season on Oct. 13 at Buffalo and has not lost a day game since a 5-2 setback on April 7, 2012 at Calgary (2-0-0 since).
Entering today’s action, the Ducks co-lead the NHL in overall standings points, own the league's longest active point streak at six games (3-0-3, 9 pts.) and have earned points 14 of their last 16 games (11-2-3, 25 pts.). Anaheim has won six of its last seven road games (6-1-0) and is tied for the Western Conference's best road record by win/points percentage (.750, 6-2-0).
The Ducks haven’t played since Wednesday’s 6-5 shootout victory over the Kings at Honda Center, which many have said is going down as a classic between the crosstown rivals. The Kings, however, played the following night and got blanked 2-0 vs. Dallas on home ice.
“We’re going to play a little bit of a different team, I’m sure,” said captain Ryan Getzlaf. “We have to go in with the same mentality that we had [in Anaheim]. We’re expecting a big push at the start. It’s going to be a good hockey game.”
“We’re going to get the best effort that they can give,” said head coach Bruce Boudreau. “That’s what the Kings are all about. There’s a reason why they’ve won the Cup twice in the past three years. They will play their best.”
The Ducks are hoping to get another strong performance out of their second line, made up of Matt Beleskey, Ryan Kesler and Jakob Silfverberg. The trio combined for three goals and six points in Wednesday’s victory, which included Silfverberg’s first goal of the season and arguably Kesler’s best performance as a Duck. Silfverberg and Kesler also converted in the shootout. Kesler has 14 points (5g/9a) in his first 17 games as a Duck, including six points in his last four (2g/4a). This also has the look of a true “shutdown” line that goes up against the opposition’s top players. “I think all three of us are strong defensively and very good in structure,” said the 24-year-old Silfverberg. “If Bruce wants to use us as a shutdown line, I wouldn’t see why we couldn’t do it.”
ANDERSEN IN NET
Frederik Andersen will have a shot at redemption this afternoon, as it was announced that he’ll start in net against LA. Andersen was pulled from Wednesday’s game after giving up a flukey goal to Trevor Lewis midway through the second period. He gave up three goals on 10 shots in 29 minutes and 20 seconds of work before being relieved by Jason LaBarbera.
“They didn’t play the way they wanted, so they’ll probably be a better team than they were the other day,” said Andersen, who enters today’s game with a 7-1-2 record. “They have a pretty good record at home so far, so we have to be sharp for all 60 minutes. But it’s not about the building and their team. It’s about what we can do with this group.
“Both teams welcome this rivalry. We have a lot of fun playing this team, so I’m sure it’ll be another good game.”
ON THE OTHER SIDE
LA’s banged up blueline took another hit yesterday when the team announced that Alec Martinez underwent surgery on a finger. They’ve also been without the services of Robyn Regehr, who suffered an undisclosed injury during his final shift of overtime during a 2-1 shootout loss to the New York Islanders on November 6.
Jon Rosen of LA Kings Insider reports that Regehr took part in practice yesterday and could be an option today. “Things progressed nicely,” Regehr said. “I worked hard in the gym and it’s just been a little bit over a week now. I view it as kind of like coming back from a little bit extended All-Star Break or something like that. You get a couple of good ice sessions in, get back into it and hope I’m in there and can help the team.”
“It’ll be more Robyn’s call,” said Kings head coach Darryl Sutter. “With an afternoon game, too, it kind of tightens it up. I talk to Robyn a lot, but at the end of the day, I’m not going to push somebody out there that’s not ready to play.”
It’s been a challenging start to the season for the Kings, who have dealt with injuries to key players such as Anze Kopitar, Marian Gaborik and Jake Muzzin, and an indefinite suspension to Slava Voynov. The Kings enter today’s game just 3-4-3 in their past 10, with this also being their third game in four nights.
“I think every team has its challenges,” said captain Dustin Brown. “We deal with adversity pretty well. Right now, we’re kind of shooting ourselves in the foot. We’re not performing to our ability. We’re definitely aware of it as a group.”