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Game Preview: Los Angeles Kings at Anaheim Ducks, Round 1

February 2nd, 2013 at 5:02 PM
By Brandon Der Avanessian

Since dropping their first two games of the season, the Los Angeles Kings have straightened things out a bit, earning points in four consecutive games coming into Saturday's matchup in Anaheim against the Ducks. The four-game streak has improved the Kings record to 2-2-2 on the season, though their last game ended in disappointment, losing to the Nashville Predators after eight rounds of a shootout Thursday.

This will be the first of four meetings between the two local rivals during a lockout-shortened 2013 season, after the Kings won five of the six matchups in 2011-12. Center Mike Richards led the way for the Kings, racking up five goals and three assists in the five games he played against Anaheim last season (all victories).

Los Angeles is still without defensemen Willie Mitchell and Matt Greene, both of whom are recovering from knee and back surgeries respectively. While Greene may miss the remainder of the season depending on how quickly his back heels, Mitchell's return date is slightly more up in the air. The 35-year-old has already been medically cleared to play, and was expected back in the lineup somewhere near the start of the season, but has remained out due to discomfort in his knee. Even with two key members of their defense out, the Kings have played well in their own zone as of late, giving up just 7 goals over the last four games. Davis Drewiske and Jake Muzzin have done an ample job in filling in for the two veteran defensemen, and are beginning to earn more minutes as they continue gaining the trust of their head coach Darryl Sutter.

The offense for the Kings has not been very productive so far this year, and at times has looked a lot like the team that ranked 29th out of 30 teams in total offense last season. They have scored just 11 goals through the first six games of 2013, and have relied mostly on their defense and goaltending to keep them in games.

The Kings leader in points through the early part of the season is forward Kyle Clifford, with one goal and four assists in six games. Forwards Jeff Carter (3 goals) and Anze Kopitar (2 goals) are the only players who have scored more than one goal so far this season for the defending champs.

The Ducks are off to a solid start, going 4-1-1 through their first six games. 42-year-old Teemu Selanne leads the team with 8 points (2 goals, 6 assists), including a four point barrage in a 7-3 season-opening victory against the Vancouver Canucks. Anaheim is coming off a 3-1 win over the Minnesota Wild on Friday.

This will also be the first meeting between the teams since the Kings won the Stanley Cup last June, evening the trophy count between the two teams at one.

Tags: Anze Kopitar, Hockey, Jeff Carter, Los Angeles, Los Angeles Kings, Matt Greene, Mike Richards, NHL, Teemu Selanne, Willie Mitchell

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