No matter the time of year or the circumstance, Duck and King fans alike know full well how important these match-ups are to their teams. The Ducks' putrid start to the season allowed LA to build a strong case to end Anaheim's run of Pacific Division titles, but since the turn of the calendar, the two organizations have changed direction. The Ducks have been molding themselves into the winning team everyone expected them to be at the beginning of the season, while the Kings have been incredibly mediocre since the beginning of January. Just a few weeks ago, a tense 3-2 decision in the team's first meeting of the year went to the bad guys, and they still hold a six-game lead over the third-place Ducks in the best division in hockey, but a win tonight would be incredibly beneficial towards trimming that deficit that the San Jose Sharks also find themselves in the middle of.
Ducks: Tuesday, 2/2 vs San Jose Sharks (W 3-2). "BEST AND WORST: Ducks vs Sharks (2/2/16) - Back In The Running"
Kings: Tuesday, 2/2 vs Arizona (W 6-2). "RECAP: Kings Destroy Fake Team"
All the pieces of the puzzle have finally been coming together for Anaheim. The flock is healthy again after Cam Fowler was included in the roster on Tuesday night, one game after Simon Despres' long-awaited return to the ice. Frederik Andersen and John Gibson have both been looking fantastic in the crease, which gives head coach Bruce Boudreau a tough decision to make (which Eric posted some thoughts about). Part of that has to do with the great shot suppression efforts of the skaters, who only allow their goalies to see an average of 26.6 shots a night, third least in the NHL.
Corey Perry, the team's go-to man for goals, the same one who couldn't buy a point at the beginning of the season, now has six goals and three assists in his last nine games. Another player that's operating with a point per game ratio is new kid David Perron, who's put up two and three in his first five games in a Duck uniform. As it stands right now, Perron could end up being incredibly cost-effective for the scoring punch he can provide, and that financial aspect is huge with quite a few noteworthy contracts expiring at the end of the season.
The Kings have begun to watch their seemingly insurmountable stranglehold on the Pacific slowly but surely deteriorate. They won't be surrendering that #1 seed any time soon, but they aren't doing themselves any favors by following up on almost every win with a loss or two. As a matter of fact, since the beginning of the year, LA has only had one winning streak (if you don't include the single win in 2016 win that capped off a five-game run) that was made up of two victories over the Ducks and Dallas Stars a couple of weeks ago.
It looks like the rest period that the All-Star Game afforded most of the team did them well, however, as the Kings are coming off a 6-2 shellacking of the Arizona Coyotes which featured a center ice "snipe" from Dustin Brown. Joining the LA captain with some relatively hot hands in their last few games are Marian Gaborik and Vincent Lecavalier, with newly resigned Anze Kopitar adding a playmaker's touch to the tune of four assists in the last three games.
Los Angeles is also playing with a little bit of emotion now due to the recent events involving long-time PBP announcer Bob Miller, who is currently recovering from a successful quadruple heart bypass surgery.
Two hours before face off we'll have the game thread up, featuring the full Stat Pack, likely with expected lines, and of course your Numbers For Nerds.