Ducks, Kings to renew "Freeway Faceoff" rivalry
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LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks return from their league-mandated five-day break by renewing their "Freeway Faceoff" rivalry Saturday night at Staples Center.
The Kings (24-13-5) will try to build on their success over their arch-rivals in an effort to snap a two-game losing streak.
Los Angeles has won both matchups this season, 4-3 in overtime in Anaheim on Nov. 7 and 2-1 in a shootout at home Nov. 25 but may be missing a key defenseman Saturday.
Jake Muzzin, who was placed on injured reserve Jan. 5 with an undisclosed injury and despite the expectation that he would return after the league mandated five days off, did not practice with the team Friday. Muzzin had not missed a game until his absence in Los Angeles' 4-3 loss to the Nashville Predators on Jan. 6.
Among the healthy Kings scheduled to play will be three All-Stars. Center Anze Kopitar, defenseman Drew Doughty and goaltender Jonathan Quick were named the Pacific Division All Star roster on Wednesday. The trio is expected to be in attendance in Tampa, Fla., to participate in festivities during the weekend of Jan. 28-29. The players earned their berths will solid first-half performances under coach John Stevens, who affirmed their selections.
"We're obviously thrilled for those guys," Stevens said. "It's great to see those guys rewarded for their quality play to this point. I think all three of them are a huge part of our success in the first half of the year, and I know they're excited that the three of them get to go together."
The Kings recalled defenseman Kevin Gravel on Friday from its AHL Ontario affiliate. The rookie defenseman was sent down to keep him sharp ahead of the team's second-half push toward the postseason. Gravel has appeared in three games this season with the Kings, registering one assist. This will be his third recall of the season.
The Ducks (19-15-8) locked one of their core depth players Friday, announcing a three-year extension through the 2020-21 season for winger Andrew Cogliano, the NHL's current iron man. Since entering the NHL for the 2006-07 season with the Edmonton Oilers, Cogliano has not a missed a game and is expected to play in his 890th consecutive contest (playoffs included) against Los Angeles. He talked about the mechanics of the deal coming together during the team's hiatus.
"It happened quickly, took maybe a day or two," Cogliano said. "(General manager) Bob Murray assessed the team and me and wanted to get it done as quickly as possible. I was estatic when Bob called, I have a great time here and am proud to be a Duck."
Anaheim had one All-Star selection as Rickard Rakell will represent the team in Tampa. The Swedish winger is looking forward to his debut with great anticipation.
"It is something every player dreams of and I feel honored to be representing the team," Rakell said. "It looks like a lot of fun and I an excited to participate."
With the Ducks fully healed from an injury-racked first half, they know that a quick start coming out of the break is vital if they are to return to the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season. Anaheim will attempt to snap a two-game losing streak Saturday after dropping consecutive road games to divisional rivals Edmonton (2-1 on Jan. 4) and Calgary (3-2 on Jan. 6).
With the strength of the Central Division teams this season, the Pacific Division may only get playoffs berth for the top three qualifiers, increasing the importance of divisional games.
"There are no excuses now," Anaheim defenseman Cam Fowler said. "We have a full, healthy group, a veteran group with lots of experience. We need to get the ball rolling in the proper direction because we're going to have to, and it's going to have to happen quickly."
Anaheim filled out their roster Friday, recalling right wingers Ondrej Kase and Jared Boll from its San Diego affiliate. Kase collected nine goals and 15 points with a plus-7 rating in 27 games with the Ducks this season.
The Kings will honor recently retired Hall of Fame broadcaster Bob Miller prior to the game. Billed as "Bob Miller Celebration Day," the organization will unveil a statue outside of Staples Center and raise a permanent banner to the rafters inside the arena.
Fans in attendance will receive a Miller bobblehead doll and the Kings will don special jerseys during the warmup period commemorating the event.
Updated January 13, 2018