By Kyle Shohara
Morning Skate Photos
If there’s one constant whenever the Ducks and Kings face one another, it’s the playoff-type atmosphere generated by the fans. And in the first meeting (excluding preseason) since Game 7 of the Second Round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs, another boisterous crowd is expected to converge upon Honda Center.
It’s a rivalry that now dates back 20 years, one that didn’t truly become full-fledged until these two teams met in the postseason. The Kings’ 2014 Stanley Cup championship was their second in the past three years and further instilled the notion that in order to win the Stanley Cup, one must go through Los Angeles. If the Ducks are to vanquish the ghost of postseason past, they’ll more than likely have to get past the Kings.
“That’s a team we know we have to go through if we want to win a championship,” said Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf. “Our games against the Kings are always big, and they’re fun. It’s been a great rivalry for years. You never want them to believe they can beat you.”
When it comes down to it, Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau says tonight is all about getting two points against a division rival. “I haven’t forgotten about [Game 7] because it wasn’t really a good game for us,” he said. “Everybody is aware of it, but that’s in the past. This is a divisional opponent we want to beat because we want the two points.”
Ryan Kesler, who has had his share of battles against the Kings, including the postseason with Vancouver, says he’s excited to face the team that Ducks fans love to hate. “It’s going to be an intense game, and we’re looking forward to it in here,” he said. “You can feel the intensity in the preseason when we played them. It’s going to be a fun game tonight.”
Adds Devante Smith-Pelly, “Being so close and playing them so many times, you develop a little bit of hate for them. I’m looking forward to a good game.”
FOWLER GOOD TO GO
Defenseman Cam Fowler took part in the morning skate and will return to the lineup tonight. Fowler missed Sunday’s contest due to a lower-body injury suffered the game prior vs. Arizona. The 22-year-old ranks tied for 10th among NHL defensemen in assists (8) and leads Ducks blueliners in assists and ranks second in scoring (1g/8a).
NO UPDATE ON BEAUCHEMIN, PERRY
Francois Beauchemin and Corey Perry remain out of the lineup with viral gland infections, and Boudreau says there are no updates regarding their status. “We’re anxiously waiting to hear the results,” he said. “We’re just asking now if the results of the blood tests are in. Our training staff and organization did a great job to quarantine those guys from the rest of the group.”
Perry will miss his fourth consecutive game tonight, and Beauchemin will miss his second in a row.
TIME TO SHINE
With the team struggling to find the back of the net, it appears Emerson Etem will get his chance on the top line tonight alongside Ryan Getzlaf and Devante Smith-Pelly. Etem scored his first goal (and first point) of the season on November 5 against the New York Islanders.
Etem, who spent time with Nate Thompson and Tim Jackman on the fourth line, says his game plan will remain the same. “I just need to play a speed game, be first on the forecheck, finish my hits and create space for those guys,” he said. “I need to make sure I’m bearing down on my chances. I’ll be ready to go.”
EXPECTED LINE COMBINATIONS
Emerson Etem – Ryan Getzlaf – Devante Smith-Pelly
Matt Beleskey – Ryan Kesler – Jakob Silfverberg
Andrew Cogliano – William Karlsson – Rickard Rakell
Patrick Maroon – Nate Thompson – Tim Jackman
Cam Fowler – Clayton Stoner
Hampus Lindholm – Josh Manson
Bryan Allen – Sami Vatanen