Like the three other West Coast teams in the NHL, the Los Angeles Kings are used to spending a bunch of time in airplanes during the regular season.
But in these playoffs — which started with a first-round series against California rival San Jose, and continues now with a match-up against the cross-town rival Ducks — they’ve barely spent any.
“We played St. Louis in the first round last year and it was a five-hour trip home,” said L.A. forward Justin Williams. “This is a 30-minute drive on a five o’clock game. You’re in bed before 10 o’ clock, it’s a piece of cake.”
The Kings aren’t the only team that’s enjoyed limited travel as part of the league’s new playoff format following realignment. The Ducks only had to go to Dallas in the first round; easy, compared to Detroit last year.
“We don’t have a team in the second round that has to travel 400 miles, which is nice in terms of the wear and tear of our athletes,” said NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, per NESN.
There are still potentially long distances to travel in the first and second rounds of the playoffs. Montreal-Tampa Bay was an example of that this season. As long as there are wild-card spots, Vancouver-Nashville remains the longest potential trip.
Related: Bettman discusses expansion