A 30-minute drive separates Los Angeles and Anaheim, but that short distance will be erased as the Ducks host the crosstown Kings at Honda Center Saturday for Game One of the Western Conference semifinals.
The two Southern California squads have never met in the playoffs before, but the Ducks have the unfortunate task of facing Kings netminder Jonathan Quick who looks to have re-discovered the form that lifted L.A. to the Stanley Cup two years ago.
Powered by Quick the Kings became the fourth team in NHL postseason history to erase a 3-0 series deficit and trumped the San Jose Sharks in the first round to advance. In the decisive Game Seven, Quick made 39 saves and allowed one goal in the 5-1 victory, and he’s allowing 1.25 goals per game in his last four after letting up 16 in the first three matchups against San Jose.
Still the Ducks were 3-0 against Quick during the regular season, scoring nine goals.
L.A.’s frontline of center Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams each scored four goals in the first round, with Kopitar registering six assists, the second most in playoffs.
In Game Seven against the Sharks, the Kings used a three-goal third period to move on with center Tyler Toffoli scoring his third goal of the postseason and right wing Dustin Brown his second.
However the Kings are likely to start the series against Anaheim without veteran defenseman Willie Mitchell, who suffered an undisclosed injury in Game Six and missed Game Seven in the first round.
Anaheim’s main advantage lies in a near full-week’s rest after dispatching Dallas in six games six days ago. Center Nick Bonino scored his third goal of the postseason to clinch the series in overtime and a 5-4 win over the Stars, and goalkeeper Jonas Hiller replaced Fredrik Andersen to stop all 12 shots he faced and pick up his first win of the postseason.
After Bonino, right wing Corey Perry and center Ryan Getzlaf lead the Ducks with seven points each, and defenseman Cam Fowler is tops in plus-minus at plus-five.
Start Time: 8 p.m. EST
TV Channel: NBC Sports Network
Live Stream Info: A live online stream can be watched NBC Live Extra
Betting Odds: Anaheim -1.5
Over/Under: 5 goals
Prediction: Anaheim over LA 3-1