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The two NHL teams that call this region home, Los Angeles’ Kings and Anaheim’s Ducks, squaring off in the 2014 Winter Classic at Dodger Stadium in 2014. Photo courtesy of espn.go.com

 

BY NICHOLE CHOICE

We happily welcome back Nichole Choice, SoCal Sports Annals’ resident Hockey Lady, back for her third season of commenting on our hockey scene!

Her enthusiasm has been a credit to this site and its growth, and we are very much looking forward to that continuing this year!

So please enjoy Nichole’s first article of 2016-17…

 

Welcome to the centennial year of the National Hockey League! What exciting times we live in!

It is my pleasure to serve as your Hockey Lady for the third season in a row as we enjoy the 100th anniversary of the League!

To acknowledge this landmark year, fans in Toronto (and those who choose to travel there) will be treated to the inaugural Centennial Classic as the Maple Leafs host the Detroit Red Wings on New Year’s Day 2017. This sets the stage for several months of celebratory ceremonies and events to acknowledge this significant and exciting milestone.

Meanwhile, we are about a month and a half into the season, and there have been some interesting developments. Let’s take a stroll around the league and see what’s going on…

 

Highlights of the Ducks’ 4-0 win over the Kings in this season’s first Freeway Face-Off game, courtesy of YouTube.

 

THE PACIFIC (Where the Kings and Ducks reside)

In the Pacific Division, the Edmonton Oilers are on top. Recently, they rained all over the Colorado Avalanche, and clipped the wings of the Chicago Blackhawks by denying them any goals whatsoever.

Looking back at the third week or so in November, one can conclude that a series of challenging games have undoubtedly made the Oilers stringer because they battled, albeit unsuccessfully, some very strong teams: The New York Rangers, our own Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings, and the Dallas Stars.

The streak, by the way, of the Oilers competing with a few of the NHL’s strongest teams back to back kicked off with the Stars. During that first encounter, Dallas triumphed, but Edmonton clapped back a mere eight days later with a victory, therefore balancing the scale.

As for the battles sandwiched in between?

Well, no battles were won by the Oilers that week, but apparently they are winning the war as they are number one in the Pacific.

 

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 7:  Cam Fowler #4 of the Anaheim Ducks skates with the puck against Trevor Lewis #22 of the Los Angeles Kings on April 7, 2016 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Juan Ocampo/NHLI via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Trevor Lewis;Cam Fowler

LOS ANGELES, CA – APRIL 7: Cam Fowler #4 of the Anaheim Ducks skates with the puck against Trevor Lewis #22 of the Los Angeles Kings on April 7, 2016 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Juan Ocampo/NHLI via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Trevor Lewis;Cam Fowler Photo courtesy of gettyimages.com

 

THE CENTRAL

Meanwhile in the Central Division, the Chicago Blackhawks sit atop the list of teams. Despite having a rough go of late against Edmonton as well as, even more recently, the San Jose Sharks, the Blackhawks have won apparently half of their games this month, so we’ll keep a bird’s-eye view.

THE ATLANTIC

Taking a look at the East, the Montreal Canadiens have claimed the top spot. However, their performance this season thus far has lacked consistency. With regard to their upcoming match with the Anaheim Ducks, they should be afraid.

Very afraid, as your Hockey Lady predicts this game in particular could have a pivotal effect on the Canadiens’ ranking.

THE METROPOLITAN

New York, New York. The Rangers are number one in their division.

The month of November started out on an extremely strong note with an impressive four game winning streak, with only a minor speed bump against the Vancouver Canucks, before resuming another winning streak of three, the final of which in fact was against the Canucks, for which payback was issued in the form of a 7-2 victory. The New York Rangers are most definitely a team to watch.

 

Highlights of the Kings beating the Ducks 3-2 in the second of five Freeway Face-Off matches, courtesy of YouTube.

 

SoCal: The Anaheim Ducks and the Los Angeles Kings

What about the two hockey teams local to Southern California?

Let’s start with rankings: The Kings are number three in the Pacific Division, with the Ducks trailing just behind at number four. As usual, these two fine teams are comparably competent, and frequently – excitingly for SoCal hockey enthusiasts – neck and neck during competition.

We’ve had two Freeway Face-Offs so far during this centennial season. During the first one, the Ducks snatched all crowns and conquered the Kings in their own house, the Staples Center, in a 4-0 triumph.

However, when the two teams faced off again just nineteen days later on the Ducks’ home turf, the Honda Center, the Kings kindly returned the favor in a 3-2 victory.

Three more Face-Offs remain: Two in February and the grand finale in April.

With both teams in a position of such a healthy ranking at this pint in the season, it’s encouraging indeed, and likely indicative of a formidable presence during the last three-fourths of the season for both L.A’s Kings and Anaheim’s Ducks.

 

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The Kings’ Jeff Carter handing the puck during a Freeway Face-Off match. Photo courtesy of bleacherreport.com

 

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