Hockey / Sports

Five things about Ducks and Kings

Congratulations, Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings fans. You've been pining for this playoff series for two decades.

To the rest of you, where have you been?

Hardcore hockey fans in Southern California can't wait for Saturday night, when the Ducks play host to the Kings in Game 1 of the second round. The Ducks entered the NHL in 1993, and the geographical rivals have never met in the playoffs, which is the time when heated hockey rivalries are truly forged.

Then again, some of you are probably only vaguely aware of the two local teams, or hockey for that matter. You've been scowling at Donald Sterling or fretting about the Lakers. That's OK. We're here to help, because you're going to want to watch this series.

Can the Ducks' high-flying offense get the better of Kings goalie Jonathan Quick and his Superman saves? Can the Kings, fresh off their historic first-round comeback against San Jose, keep it going?

Here's a look -- serious, and not-so-serious -- at each team and what to expect:

FIVE THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT THE KINGS

1. Their goalie is quite good

You probably saw Jonathan Quick during the Olympics, as the United States' No. 1 goalie. Or you've caught glimpses of him making plastic-man saves with his glove, leg or various other body parts. Quick is an intense competitor, a big reason the Kings allowed the fewest regular-season goals in the NHL.

2. They play boring games

That's because they enjoy playing that way. The Kings' mindset seems to be, "We're not here to entertain you; we're here to win games." They play a defense-first game intended to limit opponents' shots on goals. The Kings are quite comfortable playing 1-0 or 2-1 games because their defense is so stout.

3. They're not a basketball team

Two years ago, when the Kings made their run to the Stanley Cup, one local TV station presented their highlights with a Sacramento Kings logo. Another referred to "Brad Doty" and "Anzee Kopidor," in apparent references to Drew Doughty and Anze Kopitar. The Kings have good players; get to know them.

4. Their coach is a grump

Actually, Darryl Sutter is a pretty funny, insightful guy as long as nobody puts a microphone in his face. Sutter, a Canadian rancher when he's not coaching hockey, enjoys media obligations about as much as he enjoys shoveling manure. Sutter had a 41-second news conference this week, and that was after a win.

5. Dustin Brown will annoy you

If you're not a Kings fan, that is. Brown, the Kings' captain, isn't really a top-level scorer, but he's sandpaper on skates. Brown is known for delivering freight-train hits but also drawing penalties. Opponents accuse him of diving to draw penalties, but he also works tremendously hard in every area of the ice.

FIVE THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT THE DUCKS

1. Their thick-accented icon

Teemu Selanne isn't the player he once was but he has been a superstar for two decades. Had he played in New York or Toronto or had he erased the ever-present Finnish accent from his English, Selanne would be the face of the NHL. But the charming No. 8 is beloved for that, his candor, his engaging personality and his 684 goals. Everybody loves Teemu. Everybody.

2. Their star goal scorer is a real pain.

Players hate dealing with him on the ice. Fans call him a dirty player. Plainly said, Ducks right wing Corey Perry is difficult to play against. He'll sneak in a slash of your leg pad or snatch an opponent's stick right from his hands. He'll also beat you with a timely goal. His existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to some, wins games. You want him on your team. You need him on your team.

3. They're fun to watch

The Ducks win games and they're worth the price of buying a ticket. They produced a franchise-record 266 goals in the regular season to lead the NHL. They won 23 games when the opposing team scored first and six when trailing after two periods. And they beat Dallas in the series-clinching Game 6 of the first round by scoring twice in the final 2:10 of regulation and then winning in overtime. Never are they boring.

4. Their talkative coach can coach

Bruce Boudreau earned the nickname "Gabby" for the most obvious of reasons. Broach any topic -- hockey, other sports, movies, food -- with him and you'll find yourself in a 10-minute discussion on the subject. He might look like the sales manager at the local Ford dealer but he's a smart cookie and more than a good sound bite. All he needs is a long playoff run to be vaulted into the realm of elite NHL coaches.

5. Get their name right

We'll assume the majority of you know the deal. But for those who don't, they're not the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. They're not the Anaheim Mighty Ducks. They're the Anaheim Ducks and have been since 2005. They've changed their logo long ago. It's been almost a decade. But with a franchise-record 54 wins in 2013-14, they've been pretty mighty.

(c)2014 The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.)

Visit The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.) at www.ocregister.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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KINGS, DUCKS


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