Game 81: Ducks 2, Kings 1
To peep out all the videos online about this game, check out today’s Hockeywood Dailies.
It’s finally happened. Hell has finally frozen over.
In a season that has all three West Coast teams in the playoffs, Canada will only have two representing them in the Stanley Cup playoffs. That is… weird.
The Kings, the Sharks and the Ducks will be playing meaningful games into April for the first time ever. Combine that with the inclusion of Phoenix and possibly Dallas, and that means the entire Pacific Division could be in the playoffs. I’m not entirely sure I’ve even seen a playoff where an entire division made the playoffs.
(EDIT: According to NHL.com, who cites the Elias Sports Bureau, only one time in the expansion era has every team from the same division made the playoffs. It’s only happened in 1980-81, when the entire Adams Division – Buffalo, Boston, Minnesota, Quebec and Toronto – made it into the top 16 that season.)
Since all three teams on the West Coast made it, I’m calling for someone to quickly pull together a photo of a Sharkducking, a distant relative of Sharktopus. It has the body of a King, the tail of a shark and the buoyancy of a duck. Or maybe the head of a shark wearing a crown on the body of a duck. Or maybe a duck head on a King body with a sharks fin. O.K., maybe not. Really, anything you try to combine will wind up looking like Gypsy from Mystery Science Theater 3000. Damn you, Sharkducking!
I have to give him credit, because his performance has been very impressive his entire career. Teemu Selanne scored two goals to carry the Ducks past the Kings into the playoffs. He now has 50 goals and 109 points in 91 career games against the Kings, which should garner some respect (or as much respect as you can give a Duck.)
The Kings were strong once again on the penalty kill, killing off both of the Ducks’ man-advantage to improve to 49 of their last 51 PK opportunities. But that is tempered by not scoring on the power play, which is sorely missing Anze Kopitar. They are now 0-for-16 on the man advantage. Oof.
So now, hockey season now has an extended engagement in the Southland. not that you couldn’t tell on TV. Thanks to the Dodgers and the Angels, the game was relegated to KDOC. I mean, I know the Ducks have a broadcast agreement with the station, but you’d think Fox Sports would try to swap off the Dodger game for the SoCal SalChow/Freeway Faceoff. This game was far more important than the Dodger game (which, as luck had it, was delayed then ultimately suspended due by rain).
One more game between these two which still has serious implications. A win would behoove the Kings, but the matchup I really want is against the Red Wings, which is where it stands right now if the playoffs started today. But to figure out how they could do that is mind-numbing. Let’s just let Saturday’s game decide and see who the Kings’ first round opponents will be.
Now that the Ducks are in, at least Cuba Gooding Jr. is happy. (We never forget, Cuba.)
The Ducks and Kings have met 101 times in the regular season and numerous times in the preseason since the NHL expanded to Anaheim. But they had never before sold playoff tickets in the same year despite a spirited rivalry that began in 1993-94, when Los Angeles was coming off its only trip to the Stanley Cup finals and the expansion Ducks were siphoning off close to 20 percent of the Kings’ season-ticket holders.
• LA Times: Teemu Selanne leads Ducks into playoffs
They played a hard, fierce game before a sellout crowd at Honda Center that included a loud contingent of Kings fans, but even the Kings acknowledged they had been beaten by an extraordinary effort by an extraordinary player.
• OC Register: Selanne makes sure Ducks reach postseason
A year after a disappointing season that left them watching the postseason from afar, the Ducks are back in as Selanne’s two goals lifted them to a 2-1 victory over the Kings that clinched a playoff spot Friday night at Honda Center.
• LAKings.com: Kings edged in Anaheim
The Kings will finish sixth in the Western Conference. Or fifth. Or seventh. Maybe fourth. Possibly even eighth. The NHL regular season is dwindling down to its final hours, and while the Kings know they’re in the playoffs, they have no idea of their short-term fate.
Anaheim prevailed in perhaps the biggest game in the history of this series in terms of what was at stake this late in the season. The closest the teams had previously come to making the playoffs in the same year was 2000, when the Kings finished fifth and the Ducks ninth.
They said it
“I’m proud of both teams. We need this. Obviously for hockey here in Southern California, this is going to be a huge boost for both franchises. So I’m very happy about this situation.” – Teemu Selanne, on have both teams in Southern California in the playoffs.
“I think we need some help now. I think this is the first time where it hasn’t been in our own hands, and that’s not what we wanted to do, but we’ll come back tomorrow. We’ve got to win tomorrow. Everybody wants to go into the playoffs with a win under our belts, playing hard and doing the right things. Hopefully that comes tomorrow.” – Matt Greene, on still being able to finish fourth in the Western Conference.
“I think we’ve just got to stick to our structure. We’ve got to get pucks behind their D and cycle it and just bring pucks to the net and crash the net.” – Wayne Simmonds, on how to find more offense.
“He gave us a chance,” Carlyle said. “I think the stop that he made on Simmonds was the game-changer. We missed the assignments. Two guys went to one and Simmonds was all alone. Dan Ellis came up with a big game-saving glove save.” – Ducks coach Randy Carlyle, on backup goaltender Dan Ellis.
“I hope we’re a little bit better in the playoffs than what we were out there tonight. You’re got a lot of skilled players on that hockey club. You’ve got to manage the puck the right way. We had plays that we just did not make, that you have to make against their two top lines, when it comes to breakouts, when it comes to managing the puck through the middle of the ice.” – Terry Murray, on the playoff-like game.