Playoff primer: California dreaming

Playoff primer: California dreaming
May 3, 2014, 4:00 pm
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The Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks have shared the Southern California hockey market for 20 years, but never have they met in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. That will change tonight when the Kings and Ducks face off in Anaheim for Game 1 of the Dustin Penner Alumni Bowl- also known as the 2014 Pacific Division Finals [NBCSN; 8:00 p.m.].

The Kings and Ducks met five times during the regular season, with L.A. winning the first game in a shootout and Anaheim winning the next four. The highlight of the season series, and one of the all-time highlights for hockey in Southern California, was the Jan.25 meeting at Dodger Stadium played before an announced crowd of 54,099.

The Ducks-Kings rivalry has been building for years and a postseason showdown seemed like an inevitable next step.

“Until you play each other in the playoffs there is not really a rivalry created,” Kings head coach Darryl Sutter said on a conference call Thursday. “It's exactly what I think everybody wanted. You've got to get through your division before you can advance.”

Added Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler: “They feel like playoff games when you play those guys. The buildings are always sold out. The fans are into it. You get some of that emotions going that you might not get in a normal regular season game so it definitely has added intensity to it.”

 

HOW THEY GOT HERE: The Kings became the fourth team in NHL history to come back from a 3-0 series deficit as they rallied to beat the San Jose Sharks 4-3 in Round 1. The Kings were outscored 17-8 in dropping Games 1-3, but went on to outscore San Jose 18-5 in winning Games 4-7.

Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams have four goals each during the Kings’ four-game winning streak, with Kopitar leading L.A. in overall scoring with 10 points in seven playoff games.

Jonathan Quick also impressed with a 4-0 record, 1.25 goals-against-average and .963 save percentage in Games 4-7 against San Jose.  

The Ducks advanced to Round 2 for the first time since 2009 with a 4-2 series win against the Dallas Stars.  Hart Trophy nominee Ryan Getzlaf finished tied with Corey Perry for the team scoring lead with seven points in Round 1, despite missing Game 4 with a facial injury.

 

GOALTENDING QUESTIONS: While Quick is the undisputed No.1 goalie for Los Angeles, Bruce Boudreau is again dealing with questions in goal as he looks to advance to the conference finals for the first time in his NHL career.

Boudreau started rookie Fredrik Anderson in all six first-round games against Dallas, but veteran Jonas Hiller made relief appearances in Games 4 and 6.

Hiller is expected to start Game 1 against the Kings, although Boudreau was tight-lipped when he spoke to reporters at Saturday’s morning skate. In two games against L.A. this season, Hiller was 1-0-1 with an 0.96 GAA and a shutout.

 

FAMILIAR FACES RETURN: Former Capitals center Mathieu Perreault is expected to return to the Ducks lineup after he missed Game 6 with a lower body injury. Perreault had two goals and four points in five games in Round 1 and skated primarily with Teemu Selanne and Patrick Maroon on Anaheim’s third line. Selanne, 43, was a healthy scratch in Game 4 but chipped in with three assists in five games.

 

WESTER CONFERENCE PRE-SERIES PREDICTIONS:

GORMLEY: KINGS IN 6; BLACKHAWKS IN 5

RABY: DUCKS IN 7; BLACKHAWKS IN 6