The timing couldn’t be better. On Saturday night, Feb. 27, 2016, on the strength of two goals from Tanner Pearson, the Los Angeles Kings defeated the Buffalo Sabres by a final score of 2-0 in front of a sellout crowd of 18,230 at STAPLES Center in downtown Los Angeles. This set the stage for a showdown between the two hottest teams in the NHL’s Pacific division.
On Sunday, Feb. 28, at 6:00 pm PT, the Anaheim Ducks will play host to the Los Angeles Kings. The battle for Pacific division supremacy has seen both teams come up with timely win streaks. The Ducks have won seven games in a row, and the Kings, four. The latter hold a four point lead in the division, but the former do have one game in hand.
This is a huge two points on the line, not just from the standpoint of the divisional race, but it is also highly probable that these two teams will meet in either the first or second round of the playoffs. That said, there is home-ice advantage at stake, as well as momentum and a psychological edge. Fans in attendance can expect a no-nonsense, playoff type atmosphere, as these teams enter the home stretch. The Kings have just 21 regular season games remaining; the Ducks have 22. It is time for serious hockey.
The two teams have gone about their win streaks in very different ways. The Ducks have outscored the opposition 27-12 over the last seven games, while the Kings have gone into shutdown mode. Playing the tight-checking style which led to Stanley Cup championships in 2012 and 2014, the Kings have outscored the opposition 8-3 over the last four games. When the Kings are on their game, scoring just two goals is plenty, though is does cause many sleepless night for their fans.
These division rivals have already met twice this season. In the first meeting, the Kings were victorious by a final score of 3-2 on Jan.17 at Honda Center. On Feb. 2, Anaheim returned the favor, by beating the Kings 4-2 at STAPLES Center. Including the Feb. 28 matchup, the teams will play each other three more times before the end of the season.
The final two meetings will take place on March 5 and April 7; both will be home games for the Kings. When all is said and done, the total points won or lost over the course of these head-to-head games, will likely determine which team wins the division.
The NHL trade deadline is Monday Feb. 29, 2016 at 12:00 noon PT. There is much speculation as to whether or not the Kings or Ducks have a big trade in the works. Most recently, the Kings traded defenseman Christian Ehrhoff to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for defenseman Rob Scuderi.
This is the second stint for ‘Scuds’, who was an integral part of the Kings’ 2012 Stanley Cup championship team. Scuderi was in the lineup when the Kings beat Buffalo on Feb. 27. He logged 19:07 of ice time, had a plus/minus rating of +1, and assisted on the first of Tanner Pearson’s two goals.