Ducks and Kings Battle in Fourth Round of Freeway Face-Off
Thursday, 12.22.2011 / 9:00 AM
NHL.comDUCKS (9-19-5) at KINGS (15-14-4)
TV: FS-W (HD)
Anaheim 3-6-1; Los Angeles 4-6-0
The Ducks are 1-1-1 in their three previous games against the rival Kings this season. Anaheim was victorious in the last contest, a 3-2 decision at Honda Center on Dec. 6. Bobby Ryan
led the way in that one with a pair of goals, the second proving to be the game-winner with 48.8 seconds left in regulation to give Bruce Boudreau his first win as Anaheim's head coach.
California neighbors who have failed to meet expectations will meet with recently-installed coaches, including the first contest of the Darryl Sutter era in Los Angeles.
Bruce Boudreau engineered an incredible turnaround with the Washington Capitals when he took over in 2007-08, but the same magic hasn't happened yet in Southern California. The Ducks have lost three in a row, allowing 14 goals in that span, and are now 2-6-1 since Boudreau took over.
Anaheim remains mired near the bottom of the Western Conference standings, and is now 14 points out of the eighth playoff spot.
"We make a mistake, it's always in the back of our net," Boudreau said. "It's everybody. It's the coaches. It's all our responsibility. We come out good for short periods of time, then all of a sudden we get out of the game plan. I don't know if the focus is lost, or we get too emotionally involved in something else."
Like their rivals to the Northwest on the I-5 freeway, the Kings have not settled among the NHL's elite as expected. Los Angeles fired coach Terry Murray after a 13-12-4 start, and split the four games with interim coach John Stevens in charge.
Sutter has now officially taken over, and the ex-Blackhawks, Sharks and Flames coach (as well as ex-Flames GM) takes over a team currently in 10th place in the West, three points back of a playoff position.
"You can see and feel that intensity right away," Jarrett Stoll said of Sutter. "I think everybody in the room felt that way. Everybody felt that way in practice and was working hard and focused. Our ears and eyes were opened and listened to what he had to say. It's a new time in here."
Who's Hot: Teemu Selanne
is riding a nine-game point streak, which ties the longest in the league this season. He has a team-high 24 assists and 35 points this season. … Los Angeles captain Dustin Brown has a goal in two of the past three games and scored in the shootout to help the Kings beat Toronto on Tuesday.
The two guys expected to skate with Selanne on the second line for Anaheim, Jason Blake
and Saku Koivu
, are both out with injuries. Blake is out until January because a skate blade damaged tendons in his wrist, while Koivu has missed five contests with a groin injury. …Scott Parse may be out for the season after hip surgery.
Despite all of the star power on both sides, these two rivals are remarkably two of the four lowest-scoring teams in the NHL. Anaheim is tied for 27th with 77 goals this season, while Los Angeles is tied for last with the New York Islanders at 70.
Anaheim went from a defensive-minded coach in Randy Carlyle to a more offensive-minded one in Boudreau, but the results haven't improved yet. The Kings expect some changes as well going from Murray to Sutter.
"After we played poorly, we'd come and watch videos," captain Dustin Brown said. "From what I gather, I don't think we'll be watching video … It's just a different approach. You have Coach A and Coach B, and there's some players who'd rather play for Coach B and some who'd rather play with Coach A. There's no right or wrong, really. It's just a matter of the makeup of the team and whether you can push the right buttons at the right time."