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The History of the Kings vs. the Ducks on March 19th [fun with charts]

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Weekend's must-see game? West showdown between Ducks, Kings - Cross Checks Blog - ESPN
The marquee NHL game this weekend is a Southern California delight, as the Anaheim Ducks visit the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night with points in the standings rarely meaning this much to both clubs this late in the season.

Actually, the splash page headline was more definitive:

California Clash -- ESPN
Have points meant this much to both Anaheim and Los Angeles this late in the season? Nope.

And, in fact, it's been often-repeated wisdom that the Kings and Ducks have never been this close in the standings this late in the season. But is it true?

This chart shows the points totals of the Kings and Ducks (and the point total of the 8th place team) on March 19, from 1994 to 2011. I prorated the 1995 (strike-shortened) 48 game season numbers, so the data would play well with the others.

[click on the chart for the high-res readable version.]

Book1_medium

  • In 1994, 1996, 2006, 2009 and 2011, the Kings and Ducks were separated by five points or less on March 19.
  • In 2000 and 2004, they were separated by between 5 and 10 points.
  • Separated between 10 and 20 points: 1995, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2010. (Strangely, that was every other year until the lock-out screwed up their rhythm).
  • Separated by more than 20 points: 1998, 2002, 2007, 2008.
  • They were the closest in 2006, the year of the Big Kings Crap-Out (Avery tantrum, Murray and Taylor firings, etc.), and in the Ducks' inaugural season. I seem to have blocked out that the Ducks were better than the Kings that year.
  • Interestingly, the averages over that period are Kings 70, Ducks 71, 8th 74. This suggests that, although sometimes one or the other of them really suck or are really good, they have been more or less equivalent over time.
  • After the first three years, in which neither made the playoffs (Kings missed by a point in 1995), one of the two has made the playoffs every year but one. In order, '94-'10: neither, neither, neither, Ducks, Kings, Ducks, Kings, Kings, Kings, Ducks, neither, (lock-out), Ducks, Ducks (cup), Ducks, Ducks, Kings.
  • That's seven appearances for the Ducks, and five for the Kings.