By Michael Walters
The Anaheim Ducks(3-4-2) face division rival Los Angeles(4-5-0) tonight. This is the first meeting between the Kings and Ducks this season. Last year, the season series was 3-2-0 in Anaheim’s favor.
The Ducks are looking to respond after a terrible 4-0 loss to Columbus last Friday night. The Blue Jackets scored four goals in just under four minutes and led 4-0 after the first period. The Ducks played better, but the damage was already done and they couldn’t respond. Rickard Rakell skated in yesterday’s practice and could play tonight. Jonathan Bernier has been practicing and if available would backup John Gibson. Shea Theodore was recalled again yesterday for the second time this week. The Ducks updated lineup will be provided prior to puck drop.
The key for Anaheim tonight is to get off to a good start against the Kings. Los Angeles is struggling to find any offense as they have been shutout in their last two games. The Ducks need to establish the forecheck early and put the Kings on their heels. They also need to work on their outlet passes. When they can make quality passes and get the transition game going, then Anaheim is at it’s best. Anaheim is still the best face-off team in the NHL at 59.3%.
Nick Ritchie – Ryan Getzlaf – Corey Perry
Andrew Cogliano – Ryan Kesler – Jakob Silfverberg
Rickard Rakell – Antoine Vermette – Chris Wagner
Joseph Cramarossa / Ryan Garbutt – Michael Sgarbossa – Jared Boll
John Gibson (Probable)
Los Angeles Outlook
The Kings dropped their last two games to Chicago 3-0 and St. Louis 1-0. Los Angeles hasn’t been able to find the back of the net since beating Nashville last Thursday in overtime. The Kings have had trouble putting teams away this season as all of their wins have come in overtime or via the shootout. The Kings are clearly missing Jonathan Quick, but Peter Budaj hasn’t been terrible. He has won four of the six games he has started and has a goals-against average of 1.99 with a save percentage of .916%.
The key for a Los Angeles victory is going to be finding the net early in this contest. When a team has been shutout two games in a row, then players can start to press their play by shooting the puck too soon or over passing in the offensive zone. The Kings need to get traffic in front of Gibson and look for a deflection or rebound. They don’t need a pretty goal as a gritty goal will work too. If they can get a tally early, then their confidence will be elevated for the rest of the game.
Peter Budaj (Probable)
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