By Kyle Shohara
For only the second time this season, the Ducks and Kings will battle one another in what figures to be another tight-checking, physical battle with emotions running high on the ice and in the stands.
Both teams are coming off losses. The Ducks saw their club record-setting 22-game home point streak come to an end in a 3-2 loss to the Jets on Tuesday night. The Kings gave up five goals in a 5-3 loss to the Blue Jackets just hours earlier.
The Ducks have a 15-point cushion over the Kings in the standings, but that means little when they play games 53 and 52, respectively, in an 82-game season. Couple that with the recent success the Kings have had over the Ducks (winners of eight of the past 11 and six of nine during Boudreau’s time behind the bench), the importance of the next two games comes into focus.
“It’s going to be two big games and it starts tonight,” said Corey Perry. “We need to come up with two points tonight and move forward to Saturday. It’s going to be a special day.”
Although the Kings got the best of the Ducks, 3-2, in a nine-round shootout here on Dec. 3, Perry says they won’t deviate from their game plan. “We just need to come out and do the same things we’ve done,” he said. “We’re at home. We’re the home team and we’ve had success here.”
Yesterday, Boudreau said there is no tougher opponent than the Kings, who boast size, strength, skill and depth throughout the lineup. In order to match the bruising Kings, it is expected Patrick Maroon will dress for tonight’s game. Maroon can do more than just hit and grind down low, and Boudreau will look for him to provide offense and energy against LA.
“He’s been doing a real good job,” said Boudreau. “In the last four or five games, he might be our best forward.” Maroon’s versatility and skillset allows Boudreau to play him on any line, including flanking the left side on the top line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, as well as seeing time on the power play. It’s a simple, no-nonsense game that Maroon brings each and every time he’s in the lineup.
“I’m just going to bring my physical presence tonight,” Maroon said. “They like to hit and we play that role, too.
“For me, I just need to be myself. I need to dump pucks in, go get them, get them back, hit guys, and show them I’ll never go away. I’m always going to be in your corner.”
Tonight marks the 114th meeting all-time between these crosstown rivals dating back to the 1993-94 season. And while they’ve yet to face each other in the postseason, the atmosphere inside Honda Center reaches playoff-level heights. Getzlaf says he expects tonight’s crowd to be as loud and boisterous as its been all season.
“Our atmosphere has been excellent this year and throughout the season,” he said. “Every night we come here, it’s been exciting. We’re excited about tonight.”
Tonight’s game will be the precursor to the 2014 Coors Light Stadium Series game this Saturday at Dodger Stadium. Anaheim is 49-41-23 all-time against Los Angeles, including a 29-13-14 record at Honda Center. The Ducks have outscored the Kings in the all-time series, 321-313 (shootout goals excluded).
Teemu Selanne leads the Ducks in career scoring vs. the Kings, earning 118 points (52g/66a) in 103 games. Getzlaf enters tonight's game on a five-game scoring streak vs. Los Angeles, earning five points (3g/2a) since Mar. 16, 2012.