LOS ANGELES KINGS: 31-22-6, 68 points, 7th place in the Western Conference
ANAHEIM DUCKS: 41-14-5, 87 points (most in the NHL), first place in the Western Conference
KINGS TOP SCORERS:
Anze Kopitar, 47 points (17 goals, 30 assists)
Jeff Carter, 30 goals (leads team)
DUCKS TOP SCORERS:
Ryan Getzlaf, 67 points (29 goals, 38 assists)
Corey Perry, 30 goals (leads team)
It’s been nearly three weeks due to some sporting event with a five-ringed white flag and a flame on top of some tower in Russia, but the two National Hockey League teams that call the greater Los Angeles area home are officially back.
It was a great Olympics for some of those players in L.A. and Anaheim as along with the Ducks’ Getzlaf and Perry, two Kings forwards, Drew Doughty and
Jeff Carter, return to Southern California with gold medals around their necks earned from Team Canada’s performance in Sochi.
They shut out the U.S. and Sweden, respectively, for the privilege of hearing “O Canada” on the medal stand as along with their women’s counterparts, they once again showed that the best hockey in the world is played above America’s northern borders.
But now that that gold medal run is over and done with, it’s time to get back to work.
In other words, for these Kings and Ducks it’s time to get back to the business of earning something that I suppose is – at least in some ways if not every way – is more important than an Olympic gold medal to them:
LORD STANLEY’S CUP
With roughly a quarter of the regular season to go, both of SoCal’s teams have a legitimate shot at hoisting what is widely considered the greatest trophy in all of sports, especially that black-and-orange clad team from Orange County.
Save for a rough patch just before the Olympic break, the Ducks have been rolling pretty much all year, sporting winning streaks of seven, eight, ten, and a run of eight out of nine.
As for the Kings, they had a run of their own earlier in the season when they won nine of ten, though because of their lack of scoring they haven’t been consistent as far as getting wins, which is the main reason why L.A. is 19 points behind their I-5 rivals.
Still, their 68 points is four ahead of the Phoenix Coyotes and Dallas Stars for the number seven spot in the West.
Which means in order to insure themselves of a postseason and to improve their seeding, these Kings need to, obviously speaking, step up their offense and win some games if not go on a long winning streak.
So how do I see the rest of the season unfolding?
How much of a chance do the Kings and Ducks have in winning the Stanley Cup in my book?
To be honest, even though both teams are having good years by any standard, I really don’t know how things will end up, for this simple reason:
More than in other sports, the NHL has been known for playoff upsets, notably last season when the Ducks, after winning the Pacific Division and gaining the West’s number two seed in the process, were beaten by the 7th-seeded Detroit Red Wings in the first round.
While the 5th seeded Kings went further in defeating the 4th-seeded St. Louis Blues and the San Jose Sharks before losing to the eventual champion Chicago Blackhawks in the conference finals.
So, to coin a cliche (though I don’t like cliches, this one rings true) anything can happen once the puck drops in the postseason.
Which in this case starts April 30th.
Until then, it goes without saying that starting this week, these two L.A. teams that represent the NHL have some work to do.
FIRST GAME FOR KINGS:
Wednesday, February 26, at Colorado Avalanche, 7:00 p.m. PT
TV: NBC Sports Network
FIRST GAME FOR DUCKS:
Friday, February 28, vs. St. Louis Blues at Honda Center 7:00 p.m. PT
TV: Prime Ticket