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Two-game series has meaning for both teams

February 17, 2007|Chris Foster | Times Staff Writer

Tonight, the Kings assume the somewhat unpleasant role in which they try to pester those who have postseason plans beyond quality tee times and family vacations.

With two games against the Ducks this weekend, the Kings can play the annoying little brother, making life difficult for a team that is jockeying for Stanley Cup playoff position.

The Ducks are scrambling to keep pace with the Nashville Predators, who lead the Western Conference, while struggling to hold off the San Jose Sharks in the Pacific Division. So, the last thing the Ducks need is the conference's last-place team handing out losses this weekend.

"Most of the teams right now are fighting to make the playoffs or fighting to improve their playoff position," Kings goaltender Sean Burke said. "We have to look at these games as our playoff games. It's not so much we want to be a spoiler, but we are a team trying to establish an identity of success."

The Ducks, meanwhile, are trying to reestablish theirs. When these teams last met for a December weekend series, the Ducks had a 20-2-6 record. But their 6-9-2 record since Jan. 1 prompts comparisons to last season's Ottawa Senators, whose 21-4-0 start dissolved into a second-round playoff exit.

But Kings captain Mattias Norstrom was adamant that the incentive wasn't to make life more difficult for the Ducks.

"I hate being in a situation like this and that ruining someone else's season is a big plus," he said. "The Ducks have had a great year and they are a great team. Yeah, they are our cross-town rivals and we want to be at our best and get the four points. But our focus is to be better as a team."

The Kings are trying to avoid a last-place finish -- they trail the 14th-place Columbus Blue Jackets by four points. The Kings have finished last in the conference three times in their previous 38 seasons, the last time being the 1983-84 season.


Teemu Selanne has 299 goals as a Duck, one shy of Paul Kariya's franchise record.... Anze Kopitar's 50 points tie him with Bernie Nicholls for eighth-most points by a Kings rookie.



7:30, FSN West

Site -- Staples Center.

Radio -- 1150, 830.

Records -- Ducks 34-16-8, Kings 19-31-9.

Season series -- Ducks lead, 3-1.

Update -- Crawford said he will use both goaltenders this weekend, Burke and Mathieu Garon, but will wait until today to decide who will start tonight.

Tickets -- (888) 546-4752.

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