By Kyle Shohara
LOS ANGELES – Just six days following a glistening jersey retirement ceremony for NHL legend and all around good guy Teemu Selanne at Honda Center, the Ducks will witness another ceremony tonight at Staples Center prior to taking on the LA Kings.
Former Kings captain/defenseman, current club executive and 2014 Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Rob Blake will have his No. 4 jersey retired by the Kings in a pregame ceremony that will push back tonight’s puck drop to approximately 8:08 p.m. PT. Coverage on KCOP-13 begins at 7:30 p.m. PT with Ducks Pregame.
Blake will become the sixth Kings player to be so honored, joining Luc Robitaille (#20/2007), Wayne Gretzky (#99/2002), Dave Taylor (#18/1995), Marcel Dionne (#16/1990) and Rogie Vachon (#30/1985).
And once the game gets under way at Staples Center, the Ducks will be going for their fourth consecutive victory, following home wins last Sunday vs. Winnipeg (5-4 SO), Wednesday vs. Toronto (4-0) and last night vs. New Jersey (5-1).
Those victories, especially the last two in which the Ducks have outscored their opponent 9-1, have given the team momentum heading into a raucous environment tonight.
“It’s going to be a tough game,” said forward Jakob Silfverberg, who recorded his third career multi-goal game last night. “Having these two games in our back pocket is obviously a great feeling. It brings a lot of confidence to the team, and we need it for sure going into [tonight].”
The Ducks will be facing an idle Kings team that hasn’t played since Wednesday night, a 5-3 loss at home vs. New Jersey. In that game, the Kings got blitzed for three goals in a span of 68 seconds, spelling starting netminder Martin Jones in favor of Jonathan Quick, who was then pulled for Jones after giving up two goals himself. “We pulled Jones because it changed the momentum,” said Kings head coach Darryl Sutter after the game. “There were three goals in a minute, and then they scored two again before the period was out. It surely didn’t change the momentum, so you might as well put him back in. It’s not that hard to figure out.”
Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau says he expects the Kings to play like they always do against his team, and that’s at the top of their game.
“They’ve been sitting at home for three days, and I don’t think they’ve been happy with the way it’s been going,” Boudreau said, alluding to LA’s recent stretch of games (1-2-2 over their past five). “When they play us, we bring out the best in them. It’s going to be a really good, tough test for us on a special night because the crowd will be into with the Blake [ceremony].
“All in all, we’ll know where we are after the game.”
Tonight's game wraps up Anaheim's eighth set of back-to-back games this season. The Ducks are 8-5-2 in back-to-backs, including 4-3-2 in the second game. Dating to the start of the 2013-14 season, Anaheim is 28-10-5 in back-to-back situations and 15-4-2 in the second game, an NHL best by points percentage (.762). Following tonight's contest, the Ducks will play their final game prior to the All-Star break on Wednesday, Jan. 21 vs. Calgary at Honda Center.
Anaheim and LA reach the halfway point of the five-game Freeway Faceoff tonight at Staples Center. Both teams are 1-0-1 this season, including a 6-5 Ducks shootout win on Nov. 12 and a 3-2 Kings overtime victory on Nov. 15. The Ducks have won five of the last six regular-season games vs. the Kings dating to a 4-0-1 season series win in 2013-14. Five of the last six Ducks-Kings games have been decided by one goal; the lone exception being the Stadium Series game at Dodger Stadium on Jan. 25, 2014, a 3-0 Anaheim win. All-time, the Ducks are 54-41-24 vs. the Kings, including a 23-28-8 mark in LA. Ryan Getzlaf leads current Ducks with 42 points (17g/25a) in 52 career games vs. the Kings. The Freeway Faceoff will conclude at Honda Center with a pair of games on Friday, Feb. 27 (7 p.m. PT) and Wednesday, March 18 (7:30 p.m. PT).
Those interested in watching tonight’s game with fellow Ducks fans can attend an Official Ducks Watch Party at the Tilted Kilt in Orange (1625 W. Katella Ave, Orange, CA 92867). Enjoy food and drink specials, intermission trivia and the opportunity to win player autographed items. Despite the late start time, fans are still encouraged to arrive early, as a large crowd is expected.