On Saturday night, Dec. 12, 2015, the Los Angeles Kings saw their six-game win streak snapped when they suffered a 2-1 overtime loss to the Buffalo Sabres. The night before, the Anaheim Ducks lost 5-1 to the Carolina Hurricanes.
Though the Kings lost, they did manage to get a point for having been tied with the Sabres at the end of regulation time. As a result, their six-game win streak has morphed into a eight-game point streak. The Kings are 7-1-2 in the last 10 games and lead the Pacific division by 10 points over the second-place Arizona Coyotes.
As for the Anaheim Ducks, they continue along a sideways path. Occasionally playing well, they seem to balance it out with games like their indifferent effort against Carolina on Friday, Dec 11. The Ducks are just 5-4-1 in their last 10 games and currently have the lowest point total (27) in both the Pacific division and the Western Conference.
Both the Kings and Ducks have played 29 games so far this season. On the season, the Kings have a goal differential of + 14 and have allowed the fewest goals in the league. Conversely, the Ducks are -17 in goal differential and will need to turn things around soon, if they are to make the playoffs. There is still plenty of hockey left in the season, but the Ducks must raise their level of play.
One of the big problems for Anaheim, has been a lack of goal-scoring. Having scored just 56 goals this season, they are averaging less than two goals per game and are the lowest-scoring team in the NHL.
Anaheim Team captain Ryan Getzlaf has 17 assists, which leads the team in that category, but has scored only one goal. Forward Corey Perry has scored just 10 goals, but that leads the team. Forward Carl Hagelin was to have been a key offseason acquisition, but has just two goals and five assists. Last season, as a member of the New York Rangers, Hagelin had 17 goals and 18 assists in 82 games.
Fortunately for the Anaheim squad, the Kings are the only dominant team in the Pacific division, so despite their record, the Ducks are only three points out of third place in the Pacific division. The top three teams in each division automatically qualify for the postseason.
The Kings have an overall record of 19-8-2, and the Ducks have an overall record of 11-13-5. This season, the two teams have yet to meet in head to head competition, but beginning with a game in Anaheim on Jan. 17, they will play each other at least once each month through the end of the 2015-16 season.
Five games means 10 points will be hanging in the balance between the division rivals, at least one of which will be fighting for a playoff spot. Down the stretch, this should make for great drama.