Author: Joe Yerdon

Kings Ducks Dodgers Stadium Hockey

NHL on NBCSN: Kings and Ducks shine under the lights at Dodger Stadium


NBCSN continues its coverage of the 2013-14 campaign tonight when the Los Angeles Kings face the Anaheim Ducks at Dodger Stadium at 9:30 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.

The Kings and Ducks are no strangers to each other. With one team in Los Angeles and the other in Orange County, it makes the setting at Dodger Stadium perfect to have a crosstown showdown of sorts.

The first of the NHL Stadium Series games gets underway tonight and for these two teams, familiarity does breed contempt. The Kings and Ducks have split their first two meetings this season with L.A. winning 3-2 in a shootout in December, but the Ducks taking a 2-1 victory at The Pond on Thursday.

The Ducks are on fire of late winning 20 of their past 23 games (20-3-0). Saying they’re “on fire” may not be putting it strong enough, but with a couple losses in their past four games, Bruce Boudreau’s squad won’t be taking it easy. Ryan Getzlaf (27) and Corey Perry (25) are tied as the highest-scoring tandem in the league with 52 goals with Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz. Toss in secondary scorers like Dustin Penner, Teemu Selanne, and Saku Koivu (who’s done the outdoor game thing before) and you’ve got a loaded team.

The Kings will try to stifle the Ducks with their defensive style and having potential Team USA Olympic starter Jonathan Quick in goal makes it a little easier to do. Since returning from a groin injury on January 4, Quick is 4-3-2 with a 1.65 goals-against average and a .934 save percentage with one shutout. Those are the kinds of numbers you need if you want to start in Sochi, but the losses have piled up lately (losing four in a row) and the lack of offense can be blamed for that.

One player who hasn’t suffered from a lack of production is Jeff Carter. He has four goals in his past five games and nine points in the past 11 games. The Ducks kept him off the board on Thursday and he’ll be hoping to put a dent in Jonas Hiller and give the Kings a win on what’s almost home ice for them at Chavez Ravine.

More than anything Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty, and the rest of the Kings need wins. They’re 4-9-2 in their past 15 games and sit 17 points behind the Ducks in the Pacific Division.

Stamkos cleared for light contact

Lightning Stamkos Hockey

Steven Stamkos’ recovery from a broken leg continues to improve.

Stamkos hit the ice in Tampa this morning not wearing a red jersey, but a yellow one. That means he’s cleared to take light contact in practice and putting him on pace to return soon.

Since seeing is believing so here he is on the ice.

Stamkos broke his leg against the Boston Bruins on November 11. Two and a half months later, he’s that much closer to helping the Lightning in their race to win the Atlantic Division.

As for when Stamkos might play, that’s still up in the air. If Stamkos wants to show he can go in the Olympics, however, the week leading up to the Olympic break could be the one to watch as the Lightning will have four games from February 1-8.

Ducks’ Koivu recalls playing outdoors in 2003

Saku Koivu

Anaheim Ducks forward Saku Koivu is no stranger to playing outdoors.

He’ll be on the ice on Saturday night for the Stadium Series at Dodger Stadium against the Los Angeles Kings, but he was in the NHL’s first outdoor game in Edmonton in 2003 as a member of the Montreal Canadiens.

As Koivu told the Los Angeles Times, the conditions in L.A. are going to be a bit nicer than they were outside in Edmonton at Commonwealth Stadium.

“You’d grab the puck and by the blue line, you’d have to pass because your eyes were watering so bad, you couldn’t see anymore,” Koivu said. “The heaters on the bench were so hot you wanted to get back out there, but it was so cold.”

Heaters on the bench likely won’t be necessary tonight as temperatures are expected to be in the 50s and 60s. Koivu and the Ducks face the Kings at 10:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN tonight.