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CA • United States • 2009 Years Old • Male
Many observers seem surprised the Los Angeles Kings find themselves one point ahead of cross town rival Anaheim in late October - with one game in hand yet.

It should not be a surprise, and do not look for the trend to reverse any time soon.

The Kings feature a wealth of young talent up front, including Anze Kopitar, Michael Cammalleri, Dustin Brown, and Alexander Frolov. The defense is solid with a good mix of veterans, youngsters, and blueliners in their prime.

The only question coming into the season was goaltending, and Jason LaBarbera seems poised to step up as the starter.

After a 1-5-0 start, the Kings have won four of five games, and arguably outplayed Calgary in the lone loss. For the first time in several years, Kings fans have reason to be truly optimistic. Barring injuries, there is no reason this team will not make the playoffs.

It is a different story 30 miles to the southeast. The wheels are coming off in Anaheim, and the Ducks already face an uphill battle to make the playoffs, never mind repeat as Stanley Cup Champions.

With a 4-7-1 record after 12 games, Anaheim likely needs 87 points over their final 70 games to grab a playoff spot. In other words, a 42-25-3 record would get the job done, but there is no indication that will happen.

Scott Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne look more retired by the day, and without them, Anaheim is full of holes. Sure, injuries have taken their toll, but there is no reason to believe that will change.

Defenseman Mathieu Schneider is entering the twilight of his career, and injuries have bedeviled him the past couple of years. Still, his injury history pales in comparison to the team's other key free agent signing.

Todd Bertuzzi has struggled with back injuries the past couple of seasons, and he is currently out of the lineup with a concussion. Earlier this year, Bertuzzi told the media he is finding injuries he never knew he had.

Not exactly what you want to hear from a $4 million per year player.

Ryan Getzlaf is currently out of the lineup with an upper body injury, leaving Anaheim with a second line of Mark Mowers, Drew Miller, and Petteri Wirtanen.

To top it off, the Ducks are running their big horses as if it was game seven of the Stanley Cup Finals. Francois Beauchemin and Chris Pronger lead the league in ice time, each averaging about a half hour per game.

With the key players logging so much ice time this early in the year, the potential for more injuries is very real.

Meanwhile, things keep looking up at Staples Center. Cammalleri leads the league with 10 goals, two more than any other player.

Kopitar continues his progression as one of the league's young superstars. A top-notch playmaker, he also possesses a sniper's hands and is one of the squad's best defensive forwards.

Brown is among the league leaders in hits and provides the perfect complement to Kopitar and Cammalleri on a top line that is arguably as good as any in the league.

The reviews on free-agent signings Ladislav Nagy, Kyle Calder, Michael Handzus, Tom Preissing, and Brad Stuart have been mixed, but all have looked stronger in recent games. Nagy had a breakout game Tuesday against Nashville, while Handzus responded with a solid effort after being demoted to the fourth line Thursday against Dallas.

In fact, that fourth line of Handzus, John Zeiler, and Raitis Ivanans played a nearly perfect fourth line game against Dallas. Each player ate up more than 10 minutes of ice time and the unit created significant sustained pressure in the offensive zone.

With four lines clicking and six solid defensemen, the Kings are for real. LaBarbera is looking more comfortable between the pipes, and Los Angeles fans are optimistic.

At the moment, it is hard to find optimism in Anaheim. The team cut off season ticket sales at 15,000, but there are thousands of empty seats many nights. Fans arrive late and leave early -- one estimate put less than 5,000 fans left in their seats with three minutes remaining in a recent 3-1 Ducks win. Prime seats posted below face value are going unsold on the team's online ticket exchange.

It may be early to press the panic button, but with a couple of more losses, the Ducks find themselves facing must-win games as early as November.

In downtown Los Angeles, however, the opening of the L.A. Live development adjacent to Staples Center is not the only cause for optimism in the area.
Filed Under:   NHL   Ducks   Kings  
October 26, 2007 11:37 PM ET | Delete
Ducks are injury plagued and are in need for some offense right now. The good news is that Schneider, Getzlaf, and Rob are returning soon, so that should help a bit. And keep in mind that the Ducks still have the bragging rights in SoCal. We just need to be optimistic and hope for the better because there are better days ahead =) Nice article btw
October 27, 2007 2:59 AM ET | Delete
Bragging rights are nothing if they can't back it up with a good season...Nice blog. Keep them coming!!!
October 27, 2007 3:05 PM ET | Delete
I don't know what you're smoking, but bragging rights are something if they can back it up with a Stanley Cup which they happen to have unlike your queens. Hope your queens actually make the playoffs this year LMAO!!! =P
October 27, 2007 7:27 PM ET | Delete
The Ducks are still one of the top contenders to win the Stanley Cup. They've had a bad start, but even without the return of Niedermeyer and Selanne, there's no reason they shouldn't be a top contender in the West. This is a long season, so don't count the Ducks as on the decline yet.
October 27, 2007 8:13 PM ET | Delete
I don't smoke...Im too old for your childish attitude like yours...Your among adults act like one!!
October 28, 2007 2:57 AM ET | Delete
5,000 left??? I was at the game, and there were maybe 5,000 empty seats. It's typical of OC hockey fans... leave early. How does that have anything to do with the team? As usual, it's the same rhetoric.... SoCal fans don't know or love hockey... blah blah blah.
October 28, 2007 8:27 PM ET | Delete
I was at the game you mentioned, and whoever gave you your 'estimate', must not be too good with numbers. There were empty seats all night, for sure, but the vast majority of the crowd stayed until the end. The Ducks are obviously down right now...call it a Cup hangover, bad luck with injuries, or whatever...but if you think they're going to play this way all year, you're crazy. Every team has down times throughout a season. Hopefully, we're just getting ours out of the way early.BTW, I wonder what Kings fans would give to even have the opportunity to discuss having a Cup hangover? Don't worry, I'm sure you won't ever have to worry about that!
October 29, 2007 12:52 AM ET | Delete
2007-08 - unannounced time in the future---Kings > Ducks
October 29, 2007 11:11 AM ET | Delete
Why take a positive time for the Kings to bang on the Ducks? Yes, it has been torture the last few games, but being a Kings fan has been torture for 40 years. Trust me, I have been alive for those 40 years. I actually bought my Ducks season tickets after the lockout so I could see the Kings. You attendance figures are inaccurate, and don't mean a thing. The seats are sold, and most likely will be a sellout each game. WildWing VS Bailey the Lion, let's get it on!!
October 29, 2007 11:13 AM ET | Delete
October 29, 2007 4:43 PM ET | Delete
Not only are your attendance figures wrong, but it's impossible to sell tickets for less than face value on the ticket exchange. Nice try though.
October 29, 2007 7:08 PM ET | Delete
Thanks for the comments, everyone! Yes, it is possible to sell tickets for less than face value on the ticket exchange. You can post them for season ticket face value, which is significantly below face value. For the next game, the cheapest tickets on the ticket exchange are $12.65, while the cheapest face value on tickets for a regular season game (which refers to box office face value prior to ticketmaster fees) is $!7.....The 5,000 estimate was made by a combination of myself and several others in our area, after scanning the entire crowd. Everyone agreed less than one-third of the seats were occupied at that point in the game.........Yes, the seats are sold, but to me, the true measure of a fan base is how many are being used........As far as Anaheim fans' reputation -- it is up to the fans to change that reputation. I had no preconceived notion of Anaheim fans before I arrived in California, and at first, I found a great core of 6-8,000 fans. However, it seems when the place is full, there's still only a core of 6-8,000 fans, while most of the others seem disinterested. I would not have believed it until I saw it myself, night after night. Be clear -- this takes nothing away from the fans who are the real fans, and those are the ones on this website. But the casual fans seem to show little interest in developing into a true fan. Maybe that's okay for some, maybe it's that baseball mentality -- but it certainly does detract from in-arena atmosphere to have people moving around during the play, putting their feet up on your seat, and talking on cell phones during the game.
October 29, 2007 11:48 PM ET | Delete
The queens are only averaging 14,000 per game LMAO! How sad is that???
October 29, 2007 11:51 PM ET | Delete
Oh yeah, fans leave early because the traffic is absolutely insane after a game. It took me about an hour just to get out of the lot. The staples center on the other hand, is rather convenient because there aren't many fans which implies no traffic.
October 30, 2007 3:35 AM ET | Delete
The Kings are still living off of OC's return of tax money cause people in OC can't count. Ducks4Cup....YOu got some serious envy going on....Let it go.How sad is that????? What are you jealous of?? Its OK...Actually there is only two exits from the Panda center....Thats the delay. Most of the Yuppies in OC can't drive!!! Let it go
October 30, 2007 4:59 AM ET | Delete
Let what go??? Seriously, Kinglove1, stop licking the toads?? Why would I envy your team when my team already won a cup??? And where does it state from my previous posts that I envy your team??? I guess, this comes to show that most of the Yuppies in LA are a bunch of dunces like yourself.
October 30, 2007 12:20 PM ET | Delete
Actually, 'face value' means the price printed on the face of the ticket. Pretty straight forward. You cannot sell tickets on the exchange for less than the price that is printed on them....i.e. their face value.
October 30, 2007 12:24 PM ET | Delete
Nope, Just your pre adult attitude gets you no where. Toads??? Licking...Don't bring your sexual prefences into this conversation. Hmmm Dunces...lol. grow up!!
October 30, 2007 12:33 PM ET | Delete
Actually, I have sold some of my Ducks tickets below face value. I have given a few of them away...just charging mailing fee. I would agree...most of the seats are sold out...But like all teams in the NHL...It goes back to how many are in the seats and how well is the team doing. Detriot is having trouble selling out games...due to the economy. Many factors. I got glass seats in Pittsburg for Dec 27 for $75 a seat..face value. They are playing Washington. I thought I was going to play through my @ss for those. I got a good price for them.
October 30, 2007 7:52 PM ET | Delete
RC -- we'll have to agree to disagree on face value. When I buy season tickets, I'm always told about the savings from "face value." Not to mention -- to me, face value for an individual game is what one would pay for an individual game. In other words, if a seat is $100 from the box office, $80 as a season ticket, and someone sells it for $90, I call that below face value. Clearly, we disagree on this definition, and that is okay -- but I will stick with my definition.
October 30, 2007 7:56 PM ET | Delete
Traffic is bad at the Pond -- closing Katella to lot 5 traffic doesn't help either. Still... the games are over by 9:30, which I don't consider very late.... I just can't believe that many people have pressing issues to leave early. It's frustrating -- for the true fans who sacrifice time, sleep, etc. to be there until the end, it really kills the atmosphere to have a 1/2 to 2/3 empty arena late in a close game.
March 2, 2008 10:31 PM ET | Delete
How does your predictions look now? Sure, the Ducks had injuries and you even pointed them out. Did you think that those injuries would never heal? Did you think that Brian Burke would let his Stanley Cup Champions wallow in the basement of the NHL? NO! On the other hand, the King's seem to not be able to do anything unless it's signing fringe players and over-rated goalies. Foolish to think that 4 weeks of hockey would dictate the entire season. Such unabashed hatred for the Ducks has tainted your perspective. Be more realistic next time you try something like this.
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