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The Rivalry Heats Up

by Staff Writer / Anaheim Ducks
Matt Vevoda

AnaheimDucks.com


It’s hard to remember time when the Freeway Face-Off rivalry between the Ducks and Kings had more at stake.

“It’s our biggest rivalry,” Perry said. “Especially when you are battling for a playoff spot with that team, it makes the games that much more intense and meaningful. It’s a fun time of the year to be playing hockey.”
The two clubs are among six with 81 to 85 standings points and nestled between 5th and 10th place in the Western Conference standings. Only four of those teams can gain entrance into the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Sure to make an impact on whether the Ducks and/or Kings make that postseason cut are the three remaining games between the two rivals. The first of those big contests comes tomorrow night at Staples Center.

“It’s our biggest rivalry,” said Corey Perry, Anaheim’s leader in goals (36, tied for fifth in the NHL) and points (75, tied for fifth in the league). “Especially when you are battling for a playoff spot with that team, it makes the games that much more intense and meaningful. It’s a fun time of the year to be playing hockey.”

Another added dimension to the rivalry will be the presence of former Duck Dustin Penner with the Kings. The forward, who broke into the league with Anaheim and helped the club to a Stanley Cup in 2007, was dealt to Los Angeles by the Oilers at this year’s trade deadline. Tomorrow will be his first game on the other side of the Southern California rivalry.

“It’s going to be weird seeing him in a Kings uniform, that’s for sure,” said Perry of his former linemate. “But we’ve played against him for a few years now. We’re still very good friends off the ice and we hang out. When the game starts, they are all enemies. There are no friends out there. That is the way you look at it.”

When the Ducks beat St. Louis on Wednesday night, they moved into playoff position along with the Kings. It was the first time in 11 years both had been in that spot this late in the season. But Anaheim did not remain in eighth place for long, as both Calgary and Nashville won last night to drop the club back down to 10th in West for the time being.

Along with Saturday’s date with the Kings, the Ducks will be back at Honda Center on Sunday for a matchup with the Flames. It is the first of four back-to-back contests for Anaheim before the regular season ends (the most of any Western Conference team) . It is an important weekend to say the least.

“We are definitely well aware of where we are in the standings and the fact that we have to win hockey games to stay there,” Getzlaf said. “Every day things are going to change. We have to make sure we’re moving in a positive direction. All we can do is take care of our own games.”
“I walked in and couldn’t believe it,” Perry said of seeing the latest standings this morning. “I looked at the board and it said we’re back out of a playoff spot. I didn’t know if it was updated or not. That is how it works. Things can happen quickly. A big weekend here could help and let us jump up higher in the standings.”

Though much went against Anaheim on last night’s scoreboard, the one result they were pleased with was the Kings’ 4-0 home loss to the Blues. The Ducks are fully prepared for a much different team come puck drop tomorrow night. “We don’t expect them to play the same type of game they did against St. Louis, I can guarantee that,“ said Ducks coach Randy Carlyle. “We know they’ve earned the right to be where they are and that they have a good hockey club.”

Heading into the big weekend, the Ducks’ eyes remain centered on themselves and their game. With so much changing around them on a daily basis , they can control their own fate by coming out on top in these crucial  games on the horizon.

“We are definitely well aware of where we are in the standings and the fact that we have to win hockey games to stay there,” Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf said. “Every day things are going to change. We have to make sure we’re moving in a positive direction. All we can do is take care of our own games.”
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