The Ducks will have a chance to clinch first place in the Western Conference tonight against the rival Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center.
All that’s needed is a point earned in their final two games, thanks to regulation losses from St. Louis and Colorado last night. The Ducks, who clinched the Pacific Division on Wednesday in an emotional 5-2 victory over San Jose at Honda Center, have never finished atop the West in the franchise’s 20-year history.
“You set goals at the beginning of the year,” said forward Matt Beleskey. “We won the division and now have a shot at the conference. That’s something huge for us, but it’s not all we’re looking at. We’re trying to gear ourselves up. If we play the right way, things seem to happen for us.”
Defenseman Stephane Robidas says finishing in first place would mean a lot to a Ducks squad that’s been at – or near - the top of the conference for the entire season.
“I came here and the team was doing really well,” he said. “I feel like I don’t have a big part of it. It’s the guys who have been here all year, who have worked so hard to be No. 1. They’ve been No. 1 in the league for a long time. I’ve just been here for a few weeks, but it would still mean a lot for me, too.”
In their way are the Kings, who will finish the regular season third in the Pacific with a first-round matchup with the second-place Sharks.
“We expect a normal game against the Kings,” said Beleskey. “It’s going to be tight checking and hard hitting. That’s how it always is. We want to roll into the playoffs, so it’s going to be a good game.”
The Ducks have found success against the Kings this season, having won the last three games of the season series (3-0-1). Their most recent victory (2-1) came on March 15 at Staples Center.
“It’s going to a tough game,” said Robidas. “It’s a good team and a division rival. Those two points mean a lot. We clinched the division and now we’d like to finish first in the conference. But we know they’re not going to give it to us.
“It’s a team we could possibly face in the second round of the playoffs. It’s going to be a big one, for sure.”
THREE GOALIES, TWO GAMES
Boudreau didn’t reveal to the media who he chose to start the final two games of the season. With three goalies on the roster, he admits it’s a day-to-day process.
“The math doesn’t work there,” he said of his three goaltenders. “I’ve told all the goalies that it’s a game-by-game situation. I told them who’s starting [Saturday]. We’ll re-evaluate after the game, and then we’ll take it from there.”
The Ducks lead the 2013-14 Freeway Faceoff with a 3-0-1 record, having won the last three games of the season series. Anaheim is 52-41-23 all-time against Los Angeles and has outscored its Pacific Division rival, 328-315 (shootout goals excluded). Ryan Getzlaf has points in six of his last eight games (3g/3a) vs. Los Angeles dating to March 16, 2012. This season, Corey Perry leads the team in scoring (2g/2a) against the Kings and co-leads in goals with Patrick Maroon (2g).