Daily News Kings host Ducks in a Freeway Faceoff rivalry rematch


They see me rollin'. They hatin'.
Staff member
The Kings and Ducks will square off in the second installment of this season’s Freeway Faceoff on Saturday, with it being the first matchup between coaches Jim Hiller and Greg Cronin.

Cronin guided the Ducks through the prior meeting, which the Kings won 5-2 and also marked the first 5 Freeway grudge match for Ducks rookies Leo Carlsson and Pavel Mintyukov. This time, it’ll be the Kings with a pair of former lottery picks, Brandt Clarke and Alex Turcotte, who will be experiencing the rivalry for the first time.

“It’s new to me and the younger players, but the intensity of the rivalry is strong among our vets and will become more a part of our young guys’ DNA with each passing game,” Cronin said.

Following the November clash, Cronin spoke of the Kings’ unique elements that he didn’t see in other contending clubs, the maturity of their defense’s involvement in the attack and other sound elements in their game. Even after the Kings’ monthlong funk, the promotion of Hiller to replace Todd McLellan and the Kings’ most recent loss, a 4-1 defeat by the Nashville Predators on Thursday, Cronin said he felt the Kings (28-17-10) were one of the top four teams in the West and that Clarke’s addition to their defense corps gave it a more offensive inclination. They’ve won five of seven games since Hiller was promoted and maintained the excellence of their top-ranked penalty kill in the process.

“They are playing the same systems they were playing under Todd McLellan, and his intensity and effort are still visible with this group,” Cronin said. “Every team gets a jump in energy when a new coach arrives, and their 5-2 record reflects that change.”

Both clubs were coming off losses, with the Ducks (20-34-2) having dropped Wednesday’s matchup with the Columbus Blue Jackets 7-4 in a bizarre contest that saw them climb out of a four-goal hole only to allow three unanswered scores. In the Kings’ loss to Nashville, they were suffocated at even strength and had their four-game winning streak snapped.

“We’ve got to be better than that, obviously, we couldn’t connect at some moments and we had some chances to score and didn’t score, we’ve got to keep going and grinding,” Vladislav Gavrikov said.

Gavrikov is a left defenseman and, based on the events late in Thursday’s match, could be seeing more ice time. Mikey Anderson, who manned the left side of the Kings’ top pairing alongside Drew Doughty, sustained an injury with about 15 minutes left and did not finish the game. Hiller was unable to provide an update after the match and the Kings did not practice Friday.

The Kings’ other left rearguard, Andreas Englund, actually played one second less than his season average of time on ice, with winger Adrian Kempe skating several shifts on defense in Anderson’s stead. Kempe was one of five Kings who recorded a multipoint game against the Ducks on Nov. 24 and he also blew up Frank Vatrano with a thunderous open-ice hit.

Right-shooting Jordan Spence was loaned to Ontario on Wednesday. He or the left-shooting Jacob Moverare could be options to draw in if Anderson were unable to play Saturday, though neither player was listed in the American Hockey League transaction log Friday.

Offensively, the Kings would love to get leading goal-scorer Trevor Moore humming again. He had 20 goals through 40 appearances, but has just one in his past 15 outings and none in his last 11. His pace has dropped from 41 goals to 31, with only five assists in those 15 games to offset his lack of goal production.

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The Ducks will face a different type of challenge and at a different time, as just 21½ hours after their tilt with the Kings, they’ll be hosting those same penurious Predators. Nashville will also be on a back-to-back turnaround after putting their three-game win streak on the line in San Jose against the Sharks on Saturday. Although leading scorers Filip Forsberg and Roman Josi were held off the scoresheet by the Kings, veteran forward Colton Sissons touched them up for a goal and two assists Thursday.


When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Crypto.com Arena

How to watch: Bally Sports West, Bally Sports SoCal


When: Sunday, 5 p.m.

Where: Honda Center

TV/radio: Bally Sports West

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