My twin brother and I are lifelong hockey fans. But somewhere along the way, something terrible and unexpected happened. We forged different paths... and chose different teams.
(on the left: almost two decades ago. on the right: last Sunday.)
You see, despite growing up together as the best of friends, I became a diehard Los Angeles Kings fan, and he became a diehard Anaheim Ducks fan. With both teams doing so well this season, we decided that we needed to attend a game. After watching the Ducks' thrilling 4-3 victory on Sunday, we decided to write about this season's performance, the upcoming stretch run, and the rivalry between our teams... and ourselves.
(His responses to each question are in bold, mine are italicized. Go!)
Intro: What's it like having a twin brother who roots for the wrong team?
What's it like having a twin on the dark side? Well... it's the ultimate brotherly sports rivalry. We both have been fans of our respective teams since we could each remember (Our first ever hockey game was actually the inaugural Ducks game in '93... so where he went wrong, we'll never know). But it's more than just a childhood memory. Now that we're older it's become part of who we are as adults. He lives in LA, he roots for LA. I live in the OC, I root for the OC. We're rooted not only in our team but in our city and lifestyle that comes with it. Makes it lots of fun when the Freeway Face-off series comes around.
Yeah, I love it. We're pretty close, but sometimes it's just fun to hate on each other. Who wants to root for the same teams, right? The rivalry has especially intensified in the last few years; now that both teams are genuinely great, the trash talk can go beyond "Haha, your team sucks and ours doesn't." Then again, in 2007 it was pretty rough; I was happy for my brother, but man, we really should have won it all first... oh well, thank god for 2012.
1. Thoughts after attending last Sunday's matchup at the Honda Center together?
The last meeting of the Ducks and Kings on April 7th was one of the stronger games I saw out of both teams this season. The energy in the Honda Center was off the charts. The crowd was so mixed, the only way you could tell if someone was cheering, yelling, cursing or booing was to look at the jerseys on their backs. It was probably the most electric feeling I've had at a game since Game 6 of the Western Conference finals in 2007. It sure beat texting my brother trash talk back and forth... we got to do it in person!
It was actually the first Kings-Ducks game we've attended in years, and it was indeed electric. To channel Drew Doughty, I do think we were the better team most of the night, but Viktor Fasth was better than Jonathan Bernier, and Anaheim certainly deserved their two points. Also, still not a fan of shootouts. But the atmosphere was tremendous, and I was really encouraged by the way the Kings fought back to tie the game three separate times. I'm salivating over a possible matchup in the second or third round.
2. What needs to happen for Kings-Ducks to be a legitimately great NHL rivalry?
I think all us fans can agree that there's really only one way to make the Kings-Ducks rivalry one of hockey's greatest. More cups, more often. Now that both hockey teams are Stanley Cup Champs (Ducks winning the first, of course), all we can do is watch and see who will get #2 first. We can all bet it won't be the Sharks...
I agree that more Cups are going to help, but I think we need to face off in the playoffs on the way to really get things going. Heck, we have a hateful relationship with Phoenix now, and that was after a single five-game series. Imagine if the teams played a hostile seven-game series and had some meaningful moments which provided future hate? The outdoor Kings-Ducks game is going to help give the rivalry some national exposure... let's hope it's gotten some traction by then.
3. What the heck happened in your team's game against Colorado?
Alright, well, if I have to say something: it was just one of those games. Colorado pulled ahead early in the 1st and we just never got the traction to come back and take it from them. Colorado built on their 1st period success with 3 goals in the second, matched by only one from the Ducks.
We did manage to win against Colorado (point Kings!), but didn't look so good while doing it. The Kings started well and got complacent, and instead of throwing shots at the Avs' rookie goalie, we withdrew in the second period. If we hadn't gotten two goals early on, I'd be just as pissed as I was after Dallas, if not moreso.
4. Which player is going to be most important for your team down the stretch?
Viktor Fasth is the key. While Jonas Hiller has been our go-to man in the past, there have been some injuries and inconsistent performances that have hurt his rep as our #1 stopper. Almost any post-game player interview has some mention of Fasth when he's the chosen goaltender for the game, and all the word is positive whether the team has a good or poor outcome. I have a feeling Fasth will play a similar role to what Jean-Sebastien Giguere did in the 2003 and 2007 postseason. You just can't argue his talent between the posts.
The obvious answer for us is our own goaltender, Jonathan Quick. And I'm gonna say it anyway. We'll need good performances from Quick if we are to gain home ice advantage, and regardless of what happens, Quick will be our playoff starter unless he completely collapses. So let's hope he finds and maintains his 2012 form.
5. If you qualify for the playoffs, who do you want to face in the first round?
What I love about the Western conference is that every team that will be playing in the post-season is going to be a challenge for anyone. I think just speaking from past success, the Wild would be a great start to the post season. We've won all 3 games this season against them, and I would love to add more wins to that statistic.
From the standpoint of HOW COOL WOULD THAT BE?!?!?! it's the San Jose Sharks; a rematch of 2011 would be nice. But I want the St. Louis Blues. 3-0 this year, all of our wins by multiple goals. Then, when the Canucks lose in the first round again, we'll get to take on Anaheim.
Finally, our predictions for Saturday...
I'm predicting a big W and a clinched playoff berth on Saturday (why would I predict otherwise?!). In the Kings' defense, I will say that it won't be an easy game for Anaheim. But seeing as how their strongest performances have come from their hardest opponents (the Western Conference-leading Blackhawks and the current reigning Kings), I see another aggressive Ducks team coming out to play. Plus... after a tough loss to Colorado... they will be MIGHTY hungry (see what I did there?) for a win. 4-2, Ducks.
It would be cool for Anaheim to clinch a playoff spot against us, but it ain't happening. This time, it's on our ice. Quick will start, Staples will be rocking, and the Kings will get another early goal and won't look back. 5-2, Kings.