Six months ago, these two teams played a rather one-sided game at Honda Center that need not be discussed here in any detail. Now the Kings return to Anaheim for the first meaningful (i.e. not pre-season) meeting between these SoCal rivals. Until the playoffs begin, it will be impossible for the Ducks to exact true vengeance, but that doesn't mean a win tonight wouldn't feel good.
The Ducks' offensive output has been pretty pathetic lately, and that was the case even before Corey Perry got sick. Aside from Matt Beleskey, none of the non-Perry forwards have been scoring as many goals as we'd like them to. Part of that has to do with the cycle stuff that Kid Ish wrote about recently. Even Ryan Getzlaf hasn't looked very good recently.
Without Cam Fowler, Francois Beauchemin, and Ben Lovejoy, the D pairings have been nothing less than an adventure. Bryan Allen, Clayton Stoner, and Mat Clark have been forced to play more prominent roles than is ideal. On the plus side, what little we've seen of Josh Manson is very encouraging, and the Ducks' indisputable MVP of the young season, Frederik Andersen, has kept the D looking passable even when they don't deserve it.
For the Ducks, the big story continues to be the unhealthy scratches. Perry and Beauchemin are out with viral gland infections, and John Gibson (groin) and Ben Lovejoy (finger) are still out for weeks to come. Cam Fowler (lower body) and Kyle Palmieri (ankle) are day-to-day. While there is a chance Fowler might be ready to go as early as tonight, Palmieri just participated in his first full practice on Tuesday, so don't expect him back this early. For brief, inconclusive interviews with and about these players, clicky clicky.
Through 15 games, the Kings have not been as good as expected, in both standings points and possession statistics. Small sample size, sure. But some Kings fans are worried about some things, like Jarrett Stoll being bad at hockey, for instance. But these guys still have Kopitar, Doughty, and That 70s Line, which has been exceptional so far.
The Kings have no significant injuries. Due to the Slava Voynov suspension, Dean Lombardi signed defenseman Jamie McBain (no relation) on Tuesday, who will presumably make his Kings debut tonight.
What Can We Learn From This Game?:
Given the injury situation and the date on the calendar, I'm not particularly worried about the specifics of how well the Ducks match up against the Kings. I'm more concerned with the fact that most of the forwards flat out aren't scoring. This game is an opportunity for someone to step up and make a difference in what will feel like an important game because it's against the Kings. At least one of the forward lines is going to see a lot of the Kings' bottom D pairing, which might be almost as bad as the Ducks' bottom pairing, so we can learn who on this team will make a difference given this opportunity.
We can also learn who Bruce Boudreau trusts against a team that has two lines that can score with the best of them when he doesn't have Beauchemin, Lovejoy, and possibly Fowler in the lineup.
Four OT/SO losses in a row? Why not. Jakob Silfverberg hits a couple of posts in regulation, and we'll call that progress.