Saturday, January 13th, 7:30 PM PST
TV: FS-W, PRIME
Radio: AM 830
Your Enemy: Jewels From the Crown
The Anaheim Ducks return from the bye week to take on the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night at Staples Center. The Kings are also returning from their bye week, meaning that both teams will be well-rested and potentially looking to shake off some rust through the first half of the game.
The Ducks finished up before their bye week on a 5-4-1 run in their last 10, with the full healthy roster finally beginning to make its appearance in the 2017-18 campaign. The LA Kings went into the bye week with a 4-4-2 record in their last 10 contests, sitting in 2nd place in the Pacific Division behind the Vegas Golden Knights, who lead the Western Conference with 60 points in 41 games.
The game will likely be extremely physical, as almost every matchup between Los Angeles and Anaheim is. Neither team should have an advantage in terms of rest or fatigue, meaning that this game will most likely be extremely close. The difference will come from limiting mistakes and defensive zone turnovers, as any mistake of that sort could prove costly.
While the game will no doubt be a test for both teams at this point in the season, I cannot think of a better opponent for the Ducks to open up the second half of their season against in order to inspire them to go on a run to lock up a playoff spot come April. Games against the Kings seem to always rile up players for both sides, and I would imagine that no matter the result, the Ducks will be geared up and ready to go when they play the Colorado Avalanche next on Monday in a mid-day showdown.
All Eyes On Me
The player that I will be watching in this game is Rickard Rakell. He has seven goals and three assists in the Ducks last nine games, and he has earned the right to be the All-Star representative for the Anaheim Ducks. In their first contest against Los Angeles back on November 7th, Rakell recorded a goal and an assist, so I will be looking to him to generate some offense with the help of Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. He could potentially play a pivotal role on the Ducks power play units, as games against the Kings tend to be highly physical, meaning lots of special teams play.
Keys to the Game
1. Frustrate Jonathan Quick Early - Quick has been playing quite well this year, no matter how difficult it is to say that. If the Ducks are able to get in his head early and hopefully get a couple pucks past him in the first period, they could set themselves up for a positive result.
2. Special Teams - The Kings currently have the best penalty kill in the NHL at 87.5%, meaning that the Ducks 24th ranked power play could face struggles trying to capitalize on opportunities. However, limiting penalties against and facing penalty kills of their own will be crucial to success.
3. Try Not to Lose - Starting off the second half of the season with a win against a crosstown rival would be ideal. Starting off with a loss would be less than ideal. Simple, try not to lose.