Jonathan Quick

Ducks, Kings face off in the rivalry’s biggest game

Tonight’s game between the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks is easily the biggest game in the 18-year-old rivalry. With 95 points, the Ducks are fighting for their playoff lives and can clinch a spot in the playoffs with a win against the I-5 rivals. On the other side of the rink, the Kings are trying to earn home-ice advantage in the 1st round of the playoffs for the first time since the 1991-92 season.

A win in tonight’s game by either team would go a long way towards each team reaching their goals.

People around the league, as well as in Southern California, have said the Kings/Ducks match-up would never truly reach its full potential until they were both good at the same time. The fact of matter is that there has never been a year when both the Ducks and Kings made the playoffs in the same season—let alone faced each other in the playoffs. But starting tonight, the teams will be playing in a game that has playoff implications for both. As Teemu Selanne noted to the LA Times, both teams being successful is good for hockey in the area:

“It has been unbelievable. We know the situation and so the last two games are going to be huge. It’s going to be fun. It’s like a mini-playoffs against them now.

“They clinched the playoffs and that’s awesome. That’s good for hockey here, so hopefully we both can be in there first time.”


Selanne is right: The home-and-home series to end the season is like a mini-playoff to finish out the year—but the games are far more important to the Ducks than they are to the Kings. The Kings have already punched their ticket to the dance and they’re just looking for a better dance partner. The Ducks still have work to get done if they want to make the dance as well. The easiest way to make the playoffs is simple: win. If the Ducks win either of their last two games against the Kings they’re in the playoffs. They can also make the playoffs if the Stars were to lose either of their final two games. They could even make the playoffs if they were to lose their final two games and the Stars win out—that is, if the Blackhawks were to lose their final two games in regulation against the Red Wings. There are plenty of scenarios, but everything can be simplified with this: win and they’re in.

Obviously, Anaheim is cutting it close with their playoff spot hanging in the balance in the last weekend of the season. But for hockey fans in California, this is what they’ve been waiting for. Bobby Ryan knows it:

“You always want to be a little more solidified going into the last two. But if there are any games to get ready for the playoffs, it’s certainly against the Kings. They bring out the best of us and I think we do likewise for them. It’s going to be a fun weekend.”


For the Kings, the stressful part of the stretch run was put to rest when they clinched their playoff spot against the Coyotes on Wednesday night. They can still finish anywhere from 4th – 8th place in the West—but at least they know they’ll be in the playoffs. One might expect the Kings to take their foot off the gas pedal now that they can relax, but each of the players said they are focused on the 4th seed and home-ice advantage. A pair of wins against the Ducks tonight and Saturday night would guarantee home-ice advantage for the first time in almost two decades. Currently sitting with 46 wins and 98 points, the Kings are one win away from setting a franchise record. The a win would also guarantee at least the 6th seed and would give the Kings their second consecutive 100-point season.

It’s not just the organization that has had a tough time earning the extra game at home. Ryan Smyth has never had home-ice advantage at any point in his eleven playoff appearances and is looking for the 4th seed:

“Any time you can get home ice in the playoffs, it’s crucial. That’s what you play the whole season for. It’s a big stepping stone for this hockey club. I think it dates back to when Gretz was there. That’s the last time they had home ice here, and I’ve never personally had home-ice advantage, so it would be nice to have that. That’s what you play the season for, and then after that you find out who you will play.”


Both teams have been doing everything they can to secure a playoff spot as of late. Lead by Hart Trophy candidate Corey Perry, the Ducks have gone 10-4 over their last 14 games and have five overtime wins over the last month. The Kings have fared slightly better with a 10-3-1 record over the same stretch of games even though they’ve lost their top two scorers during the run. Unfortunately for the Ducks, Ray Emery and his questionable status for tonight’s game means both teams could be dealing with injury concerns.

When speaking of the rivalry, Corey Perry called it, “two teams who don’t like each other during the regular season.” Well, the game tonight should have a little extra fuel on the fire as it’s the biggest game in the history of the rivalry. Then again, depending on how the game plays out tonight, tomorrow’s game could top it as the biggest game in the history of the rivalry.

Thank you schedule makers.

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    Goalie nods: Lack to make ‘Canes debut

    Eddie Lack, Stanislav Galiev
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    Carolina fans will get their first regular-season look at Eddie Lack tonight when the ‘Canes host the Panthers at PNC.

    “[Lack’s] excited, and the guys are excited to play in front of him,” head coach Bill Peters said on Tuesday, per the club website. “He’s a good teammate, and they want to play hard in front of him.

    “I think Eddie will be more than solid. He was good in the preseason, and I’m glad we’re able to get him in as soon as we have.”

    The ‘Canes went with Cam Ward in their first two games of the season — both losses — and the results were a mixed bag. Ward was steady in the opener, stopping 23 of 25 shots, but wasn’t great against Detroit on Saturday, allowing four goals on just 19 shots.

    Should he play well tonight, Lack could be in line for more starts in the near future. Carolina will embark on a seven-games-in-13-nights road swing later this week, which includes back-to-backs in Los Angeles and San Jose on Oct. 23 and 24.

    For the Panthers, Al Montoya will get the start in goal tonight, giving No. 1 Roberto Luongo the evening off.


    — New Jersey’s Keith Kinkaid will face Nashville for his first start of the year tonight, as Cory Schneider is away from the team following the birth of his son. Yann Danis has been called up from AHL Albany to back up. Pekka Rinne goes for the Preds.

    Michael Hutchinson starts for the Jets in New York tonight. The Rangers will again roll with Henrik Lundqvist, who’ll play for the fourth time in six nights.

    Carey Price is back in net for Montreal against Pittsburgh. Price watched Mike Condon get his first career NHL victory on Sunday against the Sens; for the Pens, Marc-Andre Fleury looks to get his first win of the year after opening with losses in Dallas and Arizona.

    Martin Jones makes his third straight start for the Sharks, while Braden Holtby makes his second straight for the Caps.

    Ben Bishop goes for the Lightning tonight in an opening-round playoff rematch against the Red Wings. Jimmy Howard goes for Detroit, after posting a shutout in the season opener.

    Anders Nilsson will make his Oilers debut this evening in Dallas, taking over for Cam Talbot. For the Stars, Kari Lehtonen will get his first start of the year, and is looking to rebound from a shaky preseason.

    Brian Elliott, who started the season opener, is back in goal for the Blues tonight for Calgary. The Flames will counter with Jonas Hiller, making his second straight start after Karri Ramo got the season-opener (a 5-1 home loss to Vancouver).

    — No confirmations yet from either Vancouver or L.A. for tonight’s game at Staples. It’s likely that Ryan Miller will go — the Canucks have third-stringer Richard Bachman backing up with Jacob Markstrom (hamstring) injured — and it’s a good bet the Kings go with Jonathan Quick, given they’re 0-2 to start the year and need a win.

    Related: Quick on save percentage: ‘Those numbers don’t mean nothing’

    Here are the 10 oldest players to play a game this season

    Jaromir Jagr
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    This isn’t breaking news or anything. We just thought you’d like to know that three of the NHL’s 10 oldest players (who’ve played at least one game this season) are members of the Florida Panthers.

    Oh, and the Panthers’ starting goalie? He’s the oldest starter in the league. (Scroll down.)

    Here’s the list of skaters, topped by 43-year-old Jaromir Jagr:


    Yet another veteran Panther, 36-year-old defenseman Brian Campbell, ranks 17th on the list.

    Granted, the above list does not include 39-year-old Patrik Elias (who’s hurt) or 39-year-old Eric Boulton (who just re-signed with the Isles). As soon as those two play, Thornton will get pushed out of the top 10.

    Now here’s the list of goalies who’ve started at least one game this season, topped by 36-year-old Roberto Luongo:


    For the record, Luongo isn’t the oldest goalie under contract. That would be Minnesota’s Niklas Backstrom, who’s 37.

    Related: Can Florida’s old guys hang on while the young guys get better?