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The Freeway Faceoff is a manufactured rivalry and this game is technically no more important than any other game on the schedule. Still, who doesn't love beating the Ducks?
I checked out the Western Conference standings yesterday after the Ducks' come-from-behind victory against the Avalanche and did an actual cartoon-style spittake when I saw their point total. I knew they were leading the Division because they'd been winning games, but I somehow hadn't put it together that they've won almost as many games as the Blackhawks - almost every single game they've played, actually.
The no-longer-Mighty Ducks of Anaheim are rolling, having taken their last six games, nine of their last ten, and thirteen of sixteen overall. So they're due for a loss, right? That line of thinking is usually bunk, but apparently the math tells us that the Ducks are, in fact, due for a loss. (Check out that sweet picture of Viktor Fasth, the current face of hasn't-yet-regressed-to-the-mean.) Unlike most of the teams the Kings have played recently, the Ducks have been extremely lucky so far this season, riding an incredibly high team-wide shooting percentage of 12.30%. The Ducks have some pretty good hockey players, and both Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry are rounding into form nicely after sub-par 2011-12 seasons, but they're still not the 1980s Oilers, and we're bound to that number come down slightly. Tonight, we hope.
Time: 7.30 PM Pacific
TV: Fox Sports West
Enemy reading: Anaheim Calling
Ducks (projected) lineup:
Kings (projected) lineup:
Injured: Greene (back), Mitchell (knee), Martinez (too beautiful for this world/upper body)
- Ellerby and Muzzin have split time as Doughty's partner. Neither one has stood out as a better choice, but Muzzin has gotten more shifts of late. Will he be better than "horse road apples" this time against Anaheim? (We talked a lot about how the goalies need to be better, but that last game against Anaheim was one of the few times the team defense and PK were putrid.)
- 30-year-old Viktor Fasth put up good numbers in Sweden, but no one was sure what he'd be able to do in his NHL debut. The Ducks already signed him to a 2-year contract after a red hot start, but his current .938 even strength SV% won't last forever. Let's hope the Kings put a dent in that record if he starts tonight.
- Jonathan Quick played well against the Avs, and overall has looked much better since splitting time with Jonathan Bernier. I'm interested to see if Sutter gives him a chance at redemption against the Ducks.
- Cam Fowler absolved Jarret Stoll from blame, but it's the first time these teams will meet since the controversial hit. Fowler is slated to be in tonight.
- Kopitar's knee had hampered his performance but he earned a A+ grade last game. Is dominant Kopitar back? He's often matched against Getzlaf when healthy, so that'll be key to watch.
- Go Kings Go