For Southern California hockey fans the match up between the Los Angeles Kings and the Anaheim Ducks is a major component of every season. The first meeting of the two teams came in the 1993-94 season, which was Anaheim’s inaugural year. Having two Southern California hockey clubs in close proximity of one another pushes fans to choose sides and thus defend and represent their chosen team. It was in 2007 that this series became know as the Freeway Face-off.
Sides are definitely distinct and the battle begins between the Anaheim Ducks and the Los Angeles Kings tonight, September 28th, which marks the first meeting of these cross town rivals this season. Although it is only a preseason game, fans hold it close to their hearts and are ready for the show down. Both teams have made recent roster cuts and are getting closer to their final rosters for the season opener.
Several players are fighting to get the very few roster spots that remain. General Managers Bob Murray (Anaheim) and Dean Lombardi (Kings) are primarily looking at who creates chemistry on their teams. They’re looking for a connection between players on lines, on the power play, penalty kill, and in defensive pairings. However, it may not always be the “best” player that sparks the chemistry. The teams want to see grit, heart, puck handling, situation awareness, strength, speed, and commitment from all of their players
Fans should look forward to seeing an aggressive and very physical game from both sides. The ducks are ready to throw down if necessary, as they showed they can during their game on September 24th against the San Jose Sharks. With only a few pre season games left on the schedule, this match up is sure to bring the best from each player, especially those still vying for a spot. Neither team should under estimate the other.
Kings defenseman Matt Greene will be missing the first month of the regular season while he rehabs after shoulder surgery, so eyes are on rookies Thomas Hickey and Jake Muzzin to battle for the one remaining defensive spot. The Ducks are looking quite closely at young rookie Cam Fowler to take a roster spot. The club has 10 defensemen left on their roster so the battle is tough but Fowler has shown great poise and positioning in games.
The next meeting of these teams is just a short time from now, on Sunday October 3rd in Anaheim. That will mark the final preseason games for both clubs. It will be an exciting season to watch as the Kings continue to build on their success from last season and the Ducks work to snap their team back onto the winning track. These two teams have yet to both make playoffs in the same season… will this year be the first?