Saturday night’s contest with the OC’s orange and black has prime-time written on it in more ways than one.
It trumps thoughts of Dodger Stadium from wherever you are to Chavez Ravine and back.
Don’t get swayed.
At this time last year, the Kings were already in the midst of their unseen and delightfully unexpected playoff run, a run to a Stanley Cup championship that wasn’t just a historic feat in the NHL, but in the world of sports all together.
Tonight marks the one-year date of Dustin Brown going short-circuit against the Vancouver Canucks in Game 2 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals.
Maybe they didn’t see it coming
Look back at it
Look now, it’s Prime Time
The NHL will spotlight it’s attention on the league’s two clubs from Southern California Saturday, which is certainly a postseason precursor with both the Kings and Anaheim Ducks extremely well en rout to solidifying playoff positions. Anaheim has already clinched a postseason berth.
The Kings are as close as it comes if we’re going to talk mathematics.
Staples Center has the Kings’ 42nd contest of the season slated for an 8:00PM PST puck-drop Saturday night, which is unprecedented for hockey contests in Downtown Los Angeles.
This will be the first time, in the 20 possible seasons it could have happened since the Anaheim Ducks‘ franchise was inaugurated in 1993, that both the Kings and the Ducks will qualify for the postseason in the same year. 19 seasons if you delete the lockout that wiped out the entire 2005-’06 NHL season.
Both clubs are coming off of appearances against the NHL‘s last-place Colorado Avalanche. The Anaheim Ducks were owned in every asset Wednesday night against Colorado, losing 4-1, right after former Anaheim goaltender Jean-Sebastian Giguere called out his current Avalanche teammates.
The Kings fared quite a bit better off against Colorado, but did allow the game a to get a bit too close for comfort. After pouncing on Sami Aittokallio early, a 20-year old rookie out of Finland making his first-career NHL start, the game slowed down rapidly.
When you’re playing a bad team, and the pace of the game slows down, it’s not a good thing.
The Kings played extra hockey against Colorado, only their sixth contest to extend into OT/SO this season. All three shooters for the Kings in the shootout frame (Jeff Carter, Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar) scored to earn a full two points, and surrender one to a hapless team in the standings.
Well done, especially considering the last two shootouts the Kings went into – which were against the Minnesota Wild, and of course, the Anaheim Ducks. The Kings faltered terribly in both, with Jonathan Quick and Jonathan Bernier failing to stop one opponent shot respectively, surrendering three breakaway bids apiece.
The Kings were able to solve their shootout problems Thursday night against the Colorado Avalanche by evading any expectations from their goaltender. Opposition had scored on the Kings in the shootout on every shot in their past two show outs in a breakaway contest.
They had allowed goals on the opposition’s previous seven shootout attempts leading up to Thursday night.
This time around, the Kings took their notes to the net, quieting the Colorado Avalanche and the hot-mouthed Jean-Sebastian Giguere by doing it the only way best – scoring on every shot you take.
This time, they took back momentum. When you’re on home-ice, you’ve got the choice to take the first shot in the shootout. That can be the deal breaker.
Sometimes the first shot does it. Because then, the flood gates are cracked open.
Let’s call it the can-opener
See you Saturday
Big Date: Tonight will mark the Kings’ fourth and final meeting against the Anaheim Ducks this season, who they hold a 1-1-1 record against in the campaign’s previous three meetings. In the season series, each club has earned a full two points when playing in their home building.
If that trend continues to ride true, Downtown Los Angeles should be an attractive setting for tonight’s affair.
Jonathan Quick will get the call – his third straight start between the pipes.
Puck drops against the Anaheim Ducks at Staples Center at 8:00PM PST.