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ANAHEIM, CA - JANUARY 23: Matt Beleskey #39 of the Anaheim Ducks and Justin Williams #14 of the Los Angeles Kings fight for the puck in the third period at Honda Center on January 23, 2014 in Anaheim, California. The Ducks defeated the Kings 2-1. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
It seems preposterous to think that with all of the success that the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings have had in the playoffs in recent years that they have never faced each other in the postseason, but the second round series between the two rivals will indeed mark the first time that they have battled in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The series, in which the Ducks will have home ice advantage, will feature two teams that both finished off their playoff series with a bang. The Ducks made a furious comeback in a Game 6 triumph over the Dallas Stars, scoring two late goals in the closing minutes and then netting the overtime winner to clinch their series victory.
As for the Kings, they too made a ridiculous comeback to get to this point, winning their last four games against the San Jose Sharks to become just the fourth team in NHL history to overcome a 3-0 series deficit to win. Their goal scoring has picked up in recent games, and Jonathan Quick has also been in top form, including a 39 save effort to eliminate the Sharks on Wednesday.
This season, the Ducks have had the upper hand over their Los Angeles-area rivals in the head-to-head series. They went 4-0-1 against the Kings in five games, including a 3-0 shutout victory in the Stadium Series game between the two clubs at Dodger Stadium. There aren't any outdoor games on the docket for this particular series, but the hype surrounding it will undoubtedly be similar in tone as the teams battle for a berth in the Western Conference Final.
At first glance, a lot of factors are working in favor of the Ducks. They have had the Kings' number so far this season with those four wins in five games (and their only loss came in a shootout in the first meeting of the season), and they have outscored Los Angeles by a margin of 12-7 in those games. They also are going to have home ice advantage, which is big because of the success that the Ducks have had at the Honda Center this season. They went a perfect 3-for-3 in wins on home ice against the Stars, and during the regular season the Ducks won 29 games on home ice.
There are some things that work in favor of the Kings. Like the Ducks, the Sharks had won 29 games at home during the regular season, but that didn't stop the Kings from grabbing two victories at SAP Center in elimination games. The Kings will also have a great deal of momentum coming into the first game of the series, as they already have won four consecutive do-or-die games, whereas the Ducks have gotten to relax a bit after their win over the Stars on Monday night.
Whichever way this series ends up turning out, it has the potential to be a watershed moment in the history of hockey in Southern California. Both teams have won Stanley Cup championships, but both have legitimate aspirations of becoming the first team from a non-traditional market to ever win multiple titles. The Stars have only won once. The Tampa Bay Lightning and Carolina Hurricanes each have one championship apiece. If the Ducks or Kings can go all the way and hoist the Stanley Cup, they would make some serious history.
Here is the TV schedule for the Ducks/Kings series (all times Pacific):
Saturday, May 3rd: 5pm Los Angeles at Anaheim, NBCSN
Monday, May 5th: 7pm Los Angeles at Anaheim, NBCSN
Thursday, May 8th: 7pm Anaheim at Los Angeles, NBCSN
Saturday, May 10th: TBD Anaheim at Los Angeles, TBD
Monday, May 12th: TBD Los Angeles at Anaheim, TBD
Wednesday, May 14th: TBD Anaheim at Los Angeles, TBD
Friday, May 16th: TBD Los Angeles at Anaheim, TBD