Previewing the Los Angeles Kings' 2013-14 West Semi-Final:
Game 1 @ Anaheim
May 3, 2014
5pm PST (8pm EST)
Fresh off their historic series comeback in Round 1, the Los Angeles Kings will be taking on their crosstown rivals, the Anaheim Ducks, in a playoff game with Game 1 set in Orange County for Saturday night. With just 30 miles separating Staples Center and Honda Center, this will be the second-closest geographic rivalry in NHL playoff history behind only the New York Rangers and New Jersey who squared off most recently in the 2012 Eastern Conference Final. But unlike those two rivals on opposite sides of the Hudson, this is the first-ever playoff meeting between the Kings and Ducks - and it promises to be one for the ages.
They started their series slow but exploded to finish their series and now the Los Angeles Kings enter the Duck Pond seeking their fifth-straight win in these playoffs. The Anaheim Ducks, however, have yet to lose on home ice this postseason after eliminating the Dallas Stars in six games last round.
While Los Angeles is set with Jonathan Quick in goal, the Ducks aren't as sure. During the regular season, Fredereik Andersen stopped 94 of 99 shots against the Kings en route to a perfect 3-0-0 record, but was pulled twice against Dallas in Round 1 including the series-clincher. Jonas Hiller, who appeared to lose his starting job to the aforementioned Dane, stopped 85 of 87 against the Kings this season with one shutout while going 1-0-1. Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said he knows who his starter will be but has not disclosed such information.
If the Ducks need to watch out for anyone on the opposing team, it should be the duo of Anze Kopitar Williams who combined for eight goals and 13 points over their last four games. As for the Kings, they will need to contain, among others, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry who combined for eight points in their last two outings. Of course, Patrick Maroon and Nick Bonino have also had success against the Kings this season so the silver-and-black cannot afford to overlook them either.
As far as injuries go, the Kings don't expect defenseman Willie Mitchell to be back in the lineup. After missing Game 7 of the San Jose series with a lower-body injury, the veteran did not skate on Friday. For the Ducks, forward Matt Belesky, who missed Games 2 through 5 versus Dallas and Mathieu Perreault, who missed Game 6, both appear to be ready to go for the series opener on Saturday. Anaheim's big trade acquisition Stephane Robidas is unfortunately done for the year with a broken leg.
As exciting as the San Jose series was for the fans of the Los Angeles Kings, this series versus the Ducks will be even more scintillating as Kings fans are being strongly encouraged to print off team banners from the LA Kings website and bring them to the Honda Center on Saturday (and again on Monday) where they hope to invade enemy territory and turn this battle into a series-long home-ice advantage.
It should be a very interesting couple of weeks.
Enjoy the game!