Outdoor Hockey in Los Angeles! It’s finally here. On Saturday the Los Angeles Kings will face the Anaheim Ducks in the first West Coast outdoor NHL game ever. Weather conditions call 80 degrees and sunshine. Welcome to “winter” in Southern California!
This is one of the most anticipated games of the 2013-14 NHL season. Both the Kings and Ducks have had fantastic seasons and will probably be competing deep into the playoffs. However, the star of the show is clearly the outdoor rink in one of the most historic venues in all of sports: Dodger Stadium.
Let’s set this bad boy up!
When and Where
Saturday January 25th 7:00 PM PST at Dodger Stadium
This will be the hottest outdoor NHL game in history. According to some sort of magical Doppler Radar 7000 it is going to be 79 degrees on Saturday. Have fun with those thick sweaters. Those of you who are going to the game, including myself, should prepare accordingly. If you plan on getting to Dodger Stadium early I would consider packing some sunscreen and leaving the jackets at home. It’s going to be cooking in the parking lot pregame. Speaking of parking lots, you may want to get to the stadium early. It’s going to be packed.
There is a legitimate rivalry between the Kings and the Ducks. Both teams stand near the top of the Western Conference and should be considered two of the top four teams in the West. The teams clearly don’t like each other very much and neither do the fans. Putting 50,000 Kings and Ducks fans in the same place and the same time is either going to make for an incredible atmosphere or a potential violent one. I’ll take the high road and predict that everybody plays nice.
On another note, thank god the NHL didn’t make Dodger Stadium in to a Winter Wonderland and instead went for the “Venice Beach theme”, which includes a volleyball court, an inline skating rink, a performance stage and a line of palm trees in Centerfield. Ok, I’m down with that. Do we get the street performers also? If someone starts walking across broken glass or juggling chainsaws I think I’m going to need those beers they won’t let me have.
Oh, yeah, I didn’t mention that yet. There’s no tailgating allowed. How are you not going to allow tailgating at an NHL game at a Baseball Stadium when it’s 80 degrees outside? In what world does that make any sense? Sigh.
But we all know what the biggest selling point of this game is: Will the rink melt?
This game, even though it’s a regular season game between bitter rivals, is really a novelty exhibition game when we get down to it. The question everyone wants to know is how is the rink going to stay in ice form while sitting in 80-degree temperatures? Will the ice melt into a pool? Is this game going to morph into some sort of water polo match? Do the Ducks and Kings have good swimmers? I think the Ducks have a clear advantage in the swimming department. These are the important questions, folks.
By the way, the rink won’t melt. The conditions are actually better for the ice than those sub-zero temperatures in Michigan. Why? Science.
In case you haven’t seen the Stadium Series specific uniforms please do yourself a favor and take a look. The Kings jerseys look classy and regal. The gray and black is a nice “negative” of their normal black sweaters.
However, the stars of the show will be those BRIGHT Orange sweaters the Ducks will be wearing. One thing is for sure; you won’t be confused as to which team is which. Hey Anaheim, I know you’re name is the “Ducks” but don’t try to be like Oregon. Nike knows how to do it up right, these just look wrong. But hey, they’ll probably sell like hot cakes. Good job, NHL.
One Word: KISS. If you love 80’s bands that scream incoherently into microphones then you’re going to love the entertainment.
Jordin Sparks will sing the National Anthem, which is a nice touch. What an eclectic group of performers. There are, apparently, some surprises in store for the fans in attendance. I’ll go out on a limb and say that Flea from the Red Hot Chili Pepper is going to do a set at some point. Or maybe Blink 182. Regardless, it should create a fun and lively atmosphere at Chavez Ravine.
Lastly, the Kings are going to honor The Great One, Wayne Gretzky, during the game. If nothing else, having the best that ever did it in the building will be awesome and seeing his career celebrated by 50,000+ fans will be a great moment.
The Anaheim Ducks come in to the Stadium Series game as one of, if not the, hottest teams in the NHL and have the most points in the league (79). The Los Angeles Kings are in 6th place in the Western Conference with 64 points and have been struggling recently on their “Grammy Trip”.
Since this is a neutral site game, we can throw everything we know about the home/road splits out of the window. It doesn’t matter. Like I stated earlier, this is an exhibition game with real implications. The Kings are going to have more fans in the stands, which may actually be a factor on Saturday night. Also, if we’re digging into advanced statistics, the Kings and Ducks are essentially the two best teams in the NHL. While this may not reflect in the Kings record, it does show that the Kings are better than their current 6th spot in the West.
The Kings and Ducks played on Thursday night in Anaheim and the Ducks prevailed 2-1. This is probably a good indication of how the game will go on Saturday. The Ducks are the hottest team in the NHL, while the Kings have dropped three straight. The Kings need the Olympic break more than any other contender in the league. Something about the Kings mindset isn’t quite right. I’m sure that they will come out and be ready to play in front of 56,000 hockey maniacs; however, I don’t think they’re playing the type of hockey you need to be playing to knock off a team like the Ducks right now.
Ducks 3 – Kings 2
Then again, a Volleyball or Gene Simmons’ tongue may find its way on to the rink at some point during the game. We really have no idea what to expect on Saturday night. However, we know it is going to be a unique experience and should be something the teams and the fans remember for years to come. When do you get to go to Dodger Stadium and watch something other than the Dodgers? I’ve been to the Ravine a couple of hundred times in my life and haven’t seen anything but Dodger games. It’s a once in a lifetime type of game. Thank you, NHL. Thank you.