The Anaheim Ducks are the NHL’s second-best team, sporting a 13-2-1 record.
The Los Angeles Kings sit 19th in the league, with a 8-6-2 mark.
Yet it’s the former that’s fired up to test itself against the latter on Monday night at the Staples Center in the latest edition of the Freeway Faceoff — just ask Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau.
“To me, it’s the ultimate test,” Boudreau told the Los Angeles Times. “They’re playing like they played in the playoffs last year. I watch every one of their games and they’re just flat-out good. And [Jonathan] Quick is good and he’s playing like he’s the Conn Smythe Trophy winner.
“They’re as good a test as you’re going to find in this game today.”
The two teams have only met once this year, with Anaheim winning a 7-4 scoring bonanza that saw Quick get hooked after allowing two goals on his first three shots — he lasted just 5:49 all told — and Anaheim going 3-for-4 on the power play.
Also, the last game was marred by the Jarret Stoll hit on Cam Fowler, one that knocked the young defenseman out of action for eight games (he returned on Sunday in a 4-3 OT win over Colorado.)
The Kings started the season slowly but have picked things up as of late. Winners of their last three, they’ve outscored opponents 10-1 over that stretch and have only allowed eight goals over their last six games.
It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.
To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:
The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)
That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:
They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.
Cheap shot on a superstar, a little uncalled goalie interference and presto – Blue Jackets win!
The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.
You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.
That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:
Coach Bylsma: Feel like after Jack's goal, the game changed for us. #gamechanger