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The L.A. Kings and the Anaheim Ducks squaring off at Dodger Stadium in the NHL’s annual Stadium Series on January 25, 2014. Photo courtesy of lakingsinsider.com

 

BY NICHOLE CHOICE

Here she is!

After covering the Anaheim Ducks’ Stanley Cup run this past spring and doing a piece on her experiences at the home of the Angels, Anaheim Stadium,

Nichole Choice, our fan of all things hockey in SoCal, makes her debut as SoCal Sports Annals’ “Hockey Lady”, covering the two teams in the NHL that make their home in Southern California: Los Angeles’ Kings and Anaheim’s Ducks from Orange County.

Needless to say, we’re so glad that Nichole is with us as this “Hockey Lady” will be bringing her enthusiasm for both the Kings and the Ducks to this site all season long, starting with this article, so…

Here’s her first post! Enjoy:

 

These should be exciting times to be living in if you happen to be a hockey fan and a resident of Southern California.

What we didn’t want was for last week’s Los Angeles Kings’ season debut to be indicative of the season ahead when they succumbed to the San Jose Sharks in a 5-1 loss.

Alas, their weekend got off to a dismal start that Friday when they lost their second game to the Arizona Coyotes 4-1. This score indicates a slight improvement in defense, but still…

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A Duck going after a King during a Freeway Face-Off contest at Honda Center. Photo courtesy of zimbio.com

 

So, some of us shifted our hopes to the Anaheim Ducks’ season opener, didn’t we? Surely the entire Southern California weekend hockey scene, regardless of which team you stood the hardest for, couldn’t be an entire wipeout, right?

Alas! Yet again! The Ducks fell! It’s a fine time to be a San Jose Sharks fan, because they whooped both King and Duck butt in a mere three-day span.

The flurry of excitement that was in the air a mere few days at the dawn of the season has waned in light of both dismal team seasonal starts. We don’t have an NFL football team, so our hockey is supposed to represent double the pleasure, not double the heartache.

It’s supposed to be exhilarating to see this region of California have two great teams who, according to statistics, are or have been firmly entrenched in top contender positions in the National Hockey League year in and year out since the early 1990s.

But how do we get back there from here?

Even if you’re more of a Kings fan than a Ducks fan, or vice versa, all hot rivalry aside, it’s easy to still feel a sense of pride or, at the moment, devastating loss, knowing that both teams from this geographic region of California are technically strong.

As the season progresses and both sets of fans lick their wounds, we can reminisce on the 2014 Western Conference Semifinals, a so-called “Freeway Face-Off”, and fantasize about how high the odds are for such a highly charged repeat athletic competition for 2016, because when this happened for the first time a couple of years ago, it was the epitome of excitement for the fans in this region, and downright historical!

 

Los Angeles Kings vs Anaheim Ducks highlights, NHL Stadium Series, Dodger Stadium, January 25, 2014

 

So as we wipe away our tears from the start of this season, let’s take a look at the statistics, which never lie.

If the past is an indication of the future, this much is clear:

The Kings’ first Stanley Cup victory was in 2012, nearly half a century after the team’s founding, and they pulled it off again in 2014, so clearly the Kings should have evolved into a finely oiled, veteran machine-type team by now – and by most indications, they have.

The Ducks, on the other hand, are a newer franchise, with a full 27 years fewer seniority in the league, yet the Kings’ first Stanley Cup finals came the same year the Orange County team was founded, in 1993.

Is this a coincidence? Did the Ducks up the ante of Southern California ice hockey sports by their mere presence?

The Anaheim Ducks are the 2007 Stanley Cup Champions, meaning their journey for the ultimate prize was 33 years shorter than that of the Kings.

How does each respective team feel about the others’ performance this weekend, and will it similarly motivate stronger, more defensive playing in the upcoming games?

With two goals scored between both teams over a spread of three games (both belonging to the veteran Kings), well, we certainly hope so!

Let’s wait with bated breath for the first Freeway Face-Off, Ducks vs. Kings encounter of the season on January 17th.

But in the meantime, the Vancouver Canucks are hopefully destined to fall to both teams as they battle the Ducks tonight at Honda Center and the Kings at Staples Center tomorrow. The Canucks aren’t coming off such a hot streak themselves, having succumbed at the skates of the Calgary Flames most recently, so there’s hope!

Go SoCal, Go! We can win!

 

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The Ducks’ goalie stopping a Kings’ shot at Staples Center. Photo courtesy of zimbio.com

 

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