Kings-Ducks: The Desperate Hours

In an important rivalry game such as tonight's, this image should fire up the Kings' fans. Or have them laughing for a few minutes.

Tonight’s Opponent: Anaheim Ducks (38-27-5). The Ducks have lost four of the last five encounters at the Staples Center.

Our Ducks’ Sister Blog on Fansided: Ducksdailyblog.com. Quack ‘em.

The Goalies and Other Roster Notables: Coming off his win against St. Louis, Ray Emery is expected to start for Anaheim. On the Kings’ side, Jon Quick will likely get the nod, his 51st of the 82-game season. Kings forward Kyle Clifford is out with a head injury. The new fourth line will be Brad Richardson at left, with Trevor Lewis centering and Kevin Westgarth on the right.

After that bitter St. Patrick’s Day debacle against St. Louis, Kings fans can only hope today’s game will wash the sour taste out of the Kings’ mouths.

Easier said than done.

On the other end of the ice is the Anaheim Ducks. Sitting on the cusp of the playoffs at 10th place, they’re coming off a win against those Kings-killers from St. Louis, and have this game and tomorrow’s contest at home against the Calgary Flames to booster their playoff chances.

Rubbing salt in the Kings’ wounds, gaining ground on a fellow Western Conference rival and keeping their own season alive gives the Ducks a lot to play for in the next 48 hours. It’s impressive they’ve won six of the last eight games with the off-and-on performances in goal they’ve had since all-star Jonas Hiller went on the injured list (vertigo).

Even though the Kings hold the fifth spot, there’s no guarantee still for a playoff ticket if the Kings continue to underwhelm at inopportune times. Like Thursday.

And after Thursday’s humiliation, the Kings will be desperate to redeem themselves after being booed off the home ice.

Take heart Kings fans: The last time the Kings got humiliated in a shutout was Feb. 19, in a road game against the New York Islanders. The Kings returned to Southern California and finished the road trip with a 3-2 win against Anaheim.

Problem with that? That was without Ryan Getzlaf and Saku Koivu in the Anaheim lineup. They’re back tonight. And Curtis McElhinney is gone. It’s not going to be the same game.

Here’s some reads between periods …

- No matter if you’re rooting for the Kings or the Ducks, check out the cartoon at the Battle of California. And read their take on tonight’s game.

- Dustin Penner gets to see life from the other side, writes Rich Hammond at the LA Kings Insider.

- Thursday’s loss and Terry’s Murray’s choice of words stirred some Kings fans and the blogosphere the wrong way.

COACH TERRY MURRAY: “You know what the most disappointing, frustrating thing was? At the end of the second period, we were booed off the ice by our fans. That is the most embarrassing thing I have ever been through. That’s the worst I’ve ever been through, in all the years I’ve been coaching. I’ve been behind the bench almost 3,000 hockey games in the NHL, and booed off the ice by your own fans at the end of the second period, here after this road trip, going 4-0 in hard places, very disappointing.”

That quote woke up The LA Kings Outsider, which defended the fans right to boo … and had footage of Kyle Clifford’s pummeling to add more Icy Hot on the hurt. BTW, my feelings? The fans had the right to boo. Jon Quick didn’t deserve any vitriol until that half-rink shot by Alex Pietrangelo that went in though, which was humiliating icing on the cake. Before then, he was all alone on the ice.

- Shameless self-promotion: My tweet (No. 666!) after the Kings allowed that half-rink goal — “AAAH post 666. And Blues score on a HALF RINK SHOT by Pietrangelo. AAAH. Giveaways: 13 Kings, 2 Blues. AAAH like Tom Hanks in “The Burbs.”

- On the lighter side (somewhat) of Thursday’s game, The Royal Half thinks it might have been the Kings’ offense that went o’way to St. Patrick or some insulted god of merchandising.

Whenever Jim Fox tries to channel the fashion power of Don Cherry, the Kings always seem to play horrendous. But that's just me.

- Also, don’t bring knives into the Staples Center and challenge the police. Before the Clippers’ game today at Staples, a steak knife-wielding man was brought down by bean bag gun shot. My inner Beavis says it would’ve been even cooler if they brought him down with those T-shirt cannons.

Whatever happens, stay sane and enjoy the game.

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