Kings (40-26-5, 85 points) vs. Ducks (38-27-5, 81) at Staples Center, 7:30 p.m.
Five storylines to track:
1. To boo or not to boo? – If Kings coach Terry Murray thought the boos were embarrassing Thursday night during a 4-0 loss against the St. Louis Blues at Staples Center, he might need to crawl under the bench if the Kings come out with the same effort against the archrival Ducks. Staring at a two-goal deficit and a 30-6 shot-on-goal differential against an injury-stricken opponent with no playoff aspirations, the spirited St. Patrick's Day crowd exhaled a swarm of boos at the end of the second period, putting a red face on Murray. The booing didn't seem to help as the Kings allowed two more goals in the third period and suffered their largest margin of defeat this season.
2. Clifford a no-go – Kings rookie forward/middleweight enforcer Kyle Clifford has been ruled out against Anaheim after leaving late in the first period against St. Louis. Clifford has been involved in a few one-sided fights this season but this time fell victim to a one-timer from Ryan Reaves, who is about 25 pounds heavier than Clifford. The right hand hit Clifford flush on the cheek and dropped him to his backside. Clifford immediately got to his skates and further challenged Reaves but appeared unsteady as he was guided to the bench by a referee. Though the injury has not been identified as a concussion, the NHL instituted new protocols earlier this week for evaluating potential concussions and Clifford might just be the first patient through the door.
3. Who’s minding the net? – Now’s not the time to second guess your starting goalkeeper, but both the Kings and Ducks might have some tough decisions to make. Kings keeper Jonathan Quick started brilliantly against the Blues then faded badly, allowing a goal from center ice early in the third period. His back-up, Jonathan Bernier, is 3-0-1 in his last four starts. Quick will start between the posts against Anaheim but Murray should have a short leash. As for the Ducks, back-up Ray Emery got his first start in over a year Wednesday and led Anaheim to a much-needed 2-1 victory against the Blues. Emery had replaced No. 1 goalie Dan Ellis in the third period of a 5-2 loss Sunday against Phoenix. Ellis has replaced All-Star Jonas Hiller, who is slowly getting over Vertigo-like symptoms.
4. King turned Duck – Lubomir Visnovsky was a key piece of the Kings’ defensive unit for seven years. In June 2008, the day before his no-trade cause would kick in, Visnovsky was traded to Edmonton for center Jarret Stoll and defenseman Matt Greene. At the 2010 trade deadline, Visnovsky was dealt again, this time to Anaheim, where he has emerged as one of the team's best players. He had an assist in the win against the Blues for his 57thpoint, equaling the most by an NHL defensemen this season.
5. In this corner – After sitting out the previous nine games as a healthy scratch, Ducks defenseman Andy Sutton re-entered the lineup against the Blues and played 13:45. Sutton is 6-6, 245 and gives the Ducks an intimidating presence around the blue line. He’s not afraid to drop the gloves either, setting the stage for a potential go-round with Kevin Westgarth, the 6-4, 228-pound Princeton-educated wing for the Kings. That’s if fellow Princeton grad George Parros doesn’t get to Westgarth first. Another match up to watch is Ducks leading scorer Corey Perry and Wayne Simmonds of the Kings. They mixed it up the last time these teams met at Staples Center.