Previewing the Los Angeles Kings' 2013-14 season:
Game 53 vs. Anaheim
January 25, 2014
6:30pm PST (9:30pm EST)
It's the third meeting of the season between these two SoCal rivals with each side winning a game apiece. The Los Angeles Kings have lost their last three in regulation and four overall, with the most recent coming on Thursday in Anaheim. On Saturday, they hope to avenge said loss.
But Saturday will mark something much more significant than any other regular season game. For the first time ever, the Los Angeles Kings will be hosting an outdoor game. While the Kings did play an outdoor game before, that was at a neutral site (Las Vegas), plus it was an exhibition. It was also in 1991 so I think it's fair to say that after 23 years, an event like this was worth the wait.
Never mind a formal preview of the matchup. Not much has changed between the Kings and Ducks within the last 48 hours and fans on both sides know what their respective teams need to do to win this game.
As for the Kings, they are hosting the first of five in the NHL's Stadium Series - but this will be the only one of the five taking place in a warm climate, which naturally makes hockey purists both skeptical and dismissive.
To them, I say good riddance.
While fans in Los Angeles Kings can say what they will about the Anaheim Ducks franchise and their fanbase, everyone has to admit that without a team in Orange County, the Kings wouldn't have a rivalry as intense as the one they have with the Ducks. Yes, there's never any love lost when the Kings play the Sharks, Canucks and Coyotes but geographically, having the Ducks across town means something special - and with that, this game means that much more to both teams and their fanbases.
For those aforementioned purists who think the Los Angeles Kings don't deserve a game of this magnitude, consider that the franchise has been around since 1967 and while they haven't exactly been the winningest franchise over that time, they have had a strong fanbase that progressively grew with each passing year.
In Los Angeles, they were never as big attention-wise as the Lakers, Dodgers and, for a time, the Raiders but even before the greatest hockey player to ever play called The Forum home, the Kings always had the undying support of tens of thousands of fans who unconditionally loved their team, even through losing seasons and dismal draft choices.
Win or lose (hopefully the former), the Los Angeles Kings will make their mark on the NHL not so much by showing outsiders what kind of team they have but how popular hockey really is in the City of Angels - just in case those east-coasters had a bedtime curfew during the 2012 plsyoffs.
While fans are anticipating another in the chapter of the Kings-Ducks rivalry, the atmosphere at Dodger Stadium alone will leave those cheering for both sides feeling that they are a part of history.
Los Angeles may not share the same weather as Montreal, Toronto or Chicago but the city puts on a show just as good - if not better - at Staples Center 41-plus times a year. That success will grow exponentially at Dodger Stadium on Saturday.
Enjoy the game!