If the upcoming Stadium Series game on January 25 at Dodger Stadium between these two NHL teams that call Southern California home is anything like what they showed at the Honda Center on Tuesday night, it will have the potential to be an instant classic.
Not that I have any plans to submit the first Freeway Faceoff game between L.A.’s Kings and Anaheim’s Ducks to ESPN Classic, but it was certainly a well-played and intense match that wasn’t settled until the teams went into a shootout after 65 minutes.
And that shootout only added to the intensity and excitement among the 17,174 fans (many of whom were rooting for the Kings) that saw it, as it went nine rounds before Dwight King beat Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller and Matthieu Perreault failed to get the puck past Kings goalie Marvin Jones, giving L.A. – officially – a 3-2 win.
Speaking of Jones, the Kings’ goalie is the biggest story in this first of five games between these teams due to this fact…
It was his NHL debut, the 23-year old having been called up from the minors because Ben Scrivens – who had replaced Jonathan Quick – had played in ten straight games and needed a rest.
As for stopping all nine Duck shots in the shootout, Jones said, “I’ve been in that situation before (in the minors)…The shooters are a little bit higher level. I just wanted to stick with what I’ve been doing and what I’ve been working on, and I was able to make a couple of saves there.”
Nine to be exact.
A significant factor in this game – and this year’s Freeway Faceoff series – getting so much attention on SoCal is because for the first time in a while, both the Kings and the Ducks are playing well and are in strong contention for the post-season.
L.A.’s record is 17-7-4 for a total of 40 points, while the Ducks’ point total is just above them at 41, reflecting their nearly identical 18-7-5 mark with both teams sitting just behind the first-place San Jose Sharks.
The fact that this rivalry stands at 53-49 in favor of the Kings makes this, once and for, a very good rivalry.
Not on the level of UCLA – USC perhaps, but a very good crosstown rivalry in its own right.
The two teams will have other games to play, the Kings facing the New York Islanders at Staples Center on Saturday, December 7 while the Ducks have a back-to-back in Chicago on December 6 and St. Louis on the 7th, but…
They will face each other again on January 23 at Staples before the big showdown at Chavez Ravine two days later on the 25th.
I’m sure the fans of both teams will be much excited about that.