The Anaheim Ducks will be scoreboard-watching on Friday night (10 p.m Eastern, 7 p.m. local), but largely concerned with a game that they need to take care of. Tonight, the Ducks host a Freeway Face-off with their biggest rivals, the Los Angeles Kings at Honda Center. It is the first game of a home-and-home between the Ducks and Kings to end the season, as the two will face-off in Hollywood tomorrow night that the Ducks hope will only need to play as a tune-up for the playoffs. The Kings have already clinched.
The Ducks enter tonight's game at 45-30-5, with 41 regulation or overtime wins, giving them a tie-breaker for seventh over the Chicago Blackhawks, and a two point lead over the ninth place Dallas Stars. The Ducks also would control the regulation or overtime victory tiebreaker over Dallas, regardless of how the two clubs finish the season. But both teams have two games remaining, meaning the Ducks at least need one win to stay out of trouble over this last weekend. Only a win will clinch them a post-season berth.
Anaheim comes into the game having won seven out of their last 10, including a dominant performance in a 6-2 win over San Jose on Wednesday, in which the Ducks exploded for four runs in the second period, while Cory Perry had a hat trick to land him at 50 goals for the season. Perry leads the team in scoring, with 50 goals and 97 points on the campaign. The Ducks have also seen an impressive second half performance from the ageless Teemu Selanne, Ryan Getzlaf, and on defense from Lubomir Visnovsky. Ray Emery is questionable with a lower-body injury, while Jonas Hiller's vertigo continues to plague him. One of Emery, Hiller, or Dan Ellis may get the call for Anaheim.
Meanwhile, the Kings are cruising into this home-and-home, having gone 6-3-1 despite losing Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams. They clinched a playoff spot on Wednesday night against Phoenix. It's possible we'll see both Jonathan Quick and Jonathan Bernier in goal for Los Angeles. Dustin Brown leads the Kings, even without Kopitar, with 28 goals. Jack Johnson and Drew Doughty have combined for 80 points from the blue line this season.
I'll be here, updating the playoff picture before the game, so check that post from more of an update on the early games in both the East and West. Meanwhile, coverage comes from throughout the SB Nation enclave. You can check out Jewels From the Crown for Kings news, Anaheim Calling for Ducks updates, and Battle of California for all kinds of madness.