Game Time: 7:30 PM, FS-W
Did you all enjoy your bye week? Have a great time kicking back and not letting sports stress you out? Sure, you all probably have day jobs, so you didn’t get to relax in wine country like Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson, or hit the beach in Mexico like Oscar Fantenberg and Christian Folin, or be a supportive husband at your wife’s photoshoot like Marian Gaborik.
But we’re all back together now, here, on this blog, on our respective couches, covered in our respective cats — okay, maybe that one’s just me — ready for Kings hockey to be back. And what better way to return from the bye week than a visit from…
Oh. Ha ha ha. Super funny, schedule makers.
A visit from the Anaheim Ducks.
For the first time all season, the Ducks’ major players are all healthy. Only Patrick Eaves remains out, which is expected after being diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome, an autoimmune disorder, at the beginning of the season. That means a full helping of our “favorite” provocateurs Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler, Corey Perry, and Kevin Bieksa tonight.
Aren’t you excited to be back from the bye week now?
The Ducks have had a rough season, which can largely be laid at the feet of the many injuries they’ve had to work around. At one point, their roster more closely resembled that of the San Diego Gulls than of any proper NHL team. In the absence of players like Getzlaf and Kesler, Rickard Rakell has really stepped up this season as a top player. Rakell currently leads the Ducks in points, with 15 goals and 16 assists.
No one needs to tell the Kings to look out for the Ducks top players — they can score and irritate you for sixty full minutes — but Ryan Getzlaf’s season has been actually fairly remarkable. After missing all of November and the beginning of December to injury, Getzlaf has amassed 17 points in 13 games, including eight in his last five. He’s as dangerous as ever and is certainly a major factor in whether or not the Ducks will be able to propel themselves back into a playoff spot. (They currently sit three points behind the last wild card spot in the West.)
Also back in the Ducks’ lineup tonight is Jared Boll, who hasn’t played an NHL game since being injured in the November Kings/Ducks matchup, where he scored his only point of the season and also fought Andy Andreoff. He’s certainly been called up from the Gulls to provide an extra physical presence in what will certainly be a typically physical game. The last time these teams met, there were three fights in the first period, including a highly predictable fight from Kurtis MacDermid. While hopefully that won’t be the case tonight, the smart choice is on Boll being the one to drop the gloves if needed.
The Kings have prevailed over the Ducks in both games so far this season, but have needed some late-game heroics in each instance to get to overtime. Games against the Ducks are ones where anything can happen, including some game winners from highly unlikely sources: Nick Shore’s stylish overtime goal in the first meeting, and Trevor Lewis in the shoot-out last time.
It’s more important than ever for the Kings to just play hockey, instead of getting sucked into being reckless by the Ducks. In both games this season, the Ducks have very easily been able to get under the skin of Kings players. Past Kings rosters have had a guy (Mike Richards) who was able to do the same (Mike Richards) to the Ducks (Mike Richards), but there’s no one to answer that irritating bell for Los Angeles these days. In both matchups this year, the Kings have put themselves at a disadvantage with needless penalties against the Ducks, when they could have played a much stronger game by not sinking to the Ducks’ level.
Puck drop isn’t until closer to 8pm Pacific, but tune in on time anyway, as the Kings will honor Bob Miller tonight with a ceremony before the start of the game.
Projected Line Combinations
Los Angeles Kings
Iafallo - Kopitar - Brown
Pearson - Kempe - Toffoli
Gaborik - Shore - Lewis
Clifford - Mitchell - Andreoff
Gravel - Doughty
MacDermid - Martinez
Forbort - Folin
Rakell - Getzlaf - Perry
Cogliano - Kesler - Silfverberg
Ritchie - Henrique - Kase
Wagner - Vermette - Boll
Fowler - Bieksa
Lindholm - Manson
Beauchemin - Montour
Opposing Preview: Anaheim Calling