A rivalry will be renewed tonight as the Ducks and Kings meet for the first time since last year’s epic postseason series. Tonight marks Anaheim’s second road contest and fourth game overall (2-1-0) of their seven-game preseason schedule. LA enters the game with a 1-0-1 record, having not played since Monday’s split-squad games vs. Arizona. Tonight’s game can be heard on AM 830 KLAA and on the official Ducks Mobile App.
Ducks fans will get their first look at offseason acquisition Ryan Kesler tonight, who will make his preseason debut on a line with Patrick Maroon and Jakob Silfverberg. The line has been together throughout training camp, and was one head coach Bruce Boudreau penciled in during the summer.
“In the summer, you have to put [together] some lines you think might jell and you have to try them out to see if they do jell,” he said. “This was a line we thought might jell. Sometimes you get it right on, and sometimes you have to experiment a little bit. We’ll see how it works tonight.”
Boudreau says each player brings different qualities which he feels might work together. “You’ve got Ryan, who can play both ends of the ice, you’ve got a big, strong guy like Maroon and you’ve got Silfverberg, who is very responsible,” he said. “Silfverberg has such a good shot that if we get it to him, he’s more capable of getting more goals than he did last year.”
Boudreau says he’s equally as curious as the media is to see how Kesler performs tonight and beyond. “We’ve got a very serious hockey player who is going to try hard,” he said. “But I’m cognizant that it’s the first preseason game for him on a new team, going into our arch enemy’s building. If he gets five goals, I’m not going to go nuts. If he’s a minus-5, I’m not going to go nuts. It’s more of a wait and see, and see how it goes.”
Kesler was obviously the center of attention inside the Ducks locker room after the pre-game skate. After informal scrimmages transitioned into full-on training camp, Kesler says he’s excited for real game action.
“I’m excited,” he said. “It’s been a while since I played my last game. There are a couple different reasons why it’s exciting tonight.”
Kesler says he’s looking to “chisel the rust off” in his Ducks debut. “It’s been a while," he said. "I’m looking forward to it, and hopefully it’s a good outing. But if not, there are still a couple of weeks before we get going here. I’m just looking to keep it simple and get my legs under me.”
Kings fans are well aware of Kesler from his time with the Vancouver Canucks. Last season, just a month before the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Kesler and Kings captain Dustin Brown fought in a January 13 contest at Staples Center. Kesler downplayed his history vs. LA.
“It’s preseason, so I’m going to focus on myself tonight,” he said. “Personally, I had something with the [Kings] in the past, as did the [Canucks], but with the rivalry the Ducks have, I’m sure it’s going to be an intense game.”