Freeway Face-off

Anaheim Ducks–Los Angeles Kings
History
1st Meeting December 2, 1993
1st Result LAK: 3–2
Location Great Western Forum
Last Meeting April 13, 2013
Last Result LAK: 2-1
Location Staples Center
Next Meeting September 17, 2013
Location Honda Center
Number of Meetings 111
All-Time Series LAK: 51–48–12 (.513)
Current Streak LAK: 1
Post Season History
Post Season Series 0
Post Season Games 0

The Freeway Face-Off is a series of hockey games played between the National Hockey League's Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings. The series takes its name from the massive freeway system in the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area, the home of both teams; one could travel from one team's arena to the other simply by traveling along Interstate 5. The term is akin to the Freeway Series which refers to meetings between the Los Angeles metropolitan area's Major League Baseball teams, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.[1]

History

The Kings and Ducks are rivals due to geographic proximity. The two teams are situated in the same metropolitan area and share a television market. The rivalry started with the Ducks' inaugural season in 1993–94 and has since continued.

The Kings' first appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals came in 1993. They have reached the playoffs 26 times in franchise history (seven appearance since the Ducks joined the NHL), most recently their Cinderella march to the 2012 Stanley Cup. The Ducks have made the playoffs seven times in franchise history, also reaching the Stanley Cup Finals twice: in 2003 and winning in 2007. As of 2012, the Kings and Ducks have never met in the playoffs.

For regular- and pre-season games, Kings fans have typically attended away games at the Ducks' home ice, Honda Center, in high numbers. Ducks fans have done the same for away games at the Kings' home ice, Staples Center. Games between the two teams are often very physical, typically including multiple fights and penalties. The rivalry was showcased for the NHL premiere in London at the start of the 2007–08 NHL season with two games between the teams.

The rivalry was further heated during the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, which was hosted by the Kings in their home arena of Staples Center. When the Ducks took the stage to announce Cam Fowler as their 1st round, 12th overall pick, the audience predominantly consisting of Kings fans, let out boos.[2]

Prior to 2007, there was no official name for the regular season meetings between the Ducks and Kings. The "Freeway Face-off" name was chosen by a poll of 12,000 local hockey fans. Other names being considered were "Freeze-way Series" and "Ice-5 Series." [3]

Common players

Several players have played for both teams, including: (boldface indicates Stanley Cup win with both teams)

The series

Regular season results

Year Series Winner Ducks W Kings W Tie Notes
1993–94 Kings 2 4 0 Both teams did not make the Playoffs
1994–95 Ducks 2 1 2 Both teams did not make the Playoffs
1995–96 Kings 2 3 1 All California teams (Including San Jose Sharks) Did not make the Playoffs
1996–97 Ducks 3 1 1
1997–98 Kings 1 3 1
1998–99 Ducks 5 1 0
1999–2000 Tie 2 2 2
2000–01 Tie 2 2 1
2001–02 Kings 0 4 1
2002–03 Tie 2 2 1 Mighty Ducks were the eventual Western Conference champions
2003–04 Kings 1 4 1 Last time that both teams did not make to the playoffs
2005–06 Ducks 5 3 First year in the current points format (no more ties)
2006–07 Tie 4 4 Ducks were the eventual Stanley Cup champions
2007–08 Ducks 6 2
2008–09 Kings 3 3 Kings received 7 points to the Ducks 6 points
2009–10 Kings 2 4
2010–11 Ducks 4 2 All California teams (Including San Jose Sharks) make the Playoffs
2011–12 Kings 1 5 Kings were the eventual Stanley Cup champions
2012–13 Kings 2 2 Kings received 5 points to the Ducks 4 points
Overall Kings (9–6–4) 47 50 11

Notable moments

Regular season

  • In the 2007-08 NHL season, the Ducks and Kings opened the season by playing a two-game series at O2 Arena in London, England on Sept. 29 and 30th of 2007, respectively. Sept. 29 marked the first hockey game ever played at London's O2 Arena. The opening faceoff was delayed as there was a lighting malfunction in the arena following the national anthems. Los Angeles won the first game by a score of 4-1 with help from then 19-year old goalie Jonathan Bernier, and two goals from Mike Cammalleri. The Ducks split the series however, by beating the Kings by a replicate score of 4-1 in the second game. The second game was notable as Jonas Hiller made his NHL debut as then-Ducks goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere was injured to start the season.[4]
  • The Ducks and Kings met on March 26, 2008 at Honda Center in Anaheim for a late-season tilt. Although the Ducks and Kings were polar opposites in the standings that year (Ducks finished 4th in the West, Kings finished 15th in the West), both teams played to an exhausting effort as goalies Jonas Hiller (Anaheim) and Erik Ersberg (Los Angeles) made game-stopping saves to help their team. The game was focused centrally on the goaltenders, as Hiller made 31 saves on 32 Kings shots, and Ersberg made 39 saves on 40 Ducks shots. With the score tied 1-1 on goals from Patrick O'Sullivan (Los Angeles) and Bobby Ryan (Anaheim) through the 3rd period, Kings forward Alexander Frolov stole the puck away from a falling Mathieu Schneider at the blueline and skated full-speed on a breakaway with under 20 seconds remaining in regulation. Frolov faked a shot, but Jonas Hiller made a brilliant pad save much to the applause of the 17,331 fans in attendance at Honda Center. The two teams played through overtime scoreless, and the game had to be settled in shootout. Kings winger Dustin Brown scored first, but Ducks winger Teemu Selanne evened the shootout on the very next shot, keeping the score at 1-1 in the extra frame. The next 5 shooters all missed their attempts until Ducks defenseman Mathieu Schneider scored to put the Ducks ahead 2-1. Los Angeles forward Brian Willsie was stopped by Hiller on the next shot, giving the Ducks a 2-1 shootout victory. The win gave the Ducks a playoff spot at 4th in the West, clinching a 2008 postseason berth.[5]
  • On January 8, 2009, the Ducks and Kings met for a mid-season game at Staples Center in Los Angeles. The game featured an earthquake midway through the 1st period, felt by some of the players and also the press writers and fans in attendance. The game was not delayed, however. Los Angeles got off to a 2-0 lead late in the 1st and throughout the 2nd on goals from Dustin Brown and Wayne Simmonds. Ducks coach Randy Carlyle summoned goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere to the bench for Jonas Hiller shortly thereafter, but the Kings scored again on an Anze Kopitar goal to make it 3-0 Kings. The game looked one-sided in favor of the Kings until Ducks winger Bobby Ryan scored a power-play goal late in the 2nd to put the Ducks on the board. To start the 3rd, Ryan scored again, stuffing in a rebound on a Ryan Carter wristshot to cut the Kings' lead to one goal. The most notable moment of the game, however, came just about a minute later when Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf fed an open Bobby Ryan on the left wing for a scoring attempt. Ryan put on arguably one of the most dazzling moves of the season, as he skated in on an angle towards the net and put on a roller-hockey style spin move around Kings defenseman Peter Harrold. With Harrold frozen from the play, Ryan pulled the puck back on his stick and tucked it in the back of the net past a sprawling Jonathan Quick. All 18,118 fans in attendance were utterly amazed, and a huge cheer went up from the large number of Ducks' fans in attendance. Ryan's hat-trick set a Ducks franchise record for fastest hat-trick in team history at 2 minutes, 21 seconds. The score was tied 3-3, giving the visiting Ducks momentum until Los Angeles re-gained the lead on a power-play goal from Alexander Frolov. The Ducks made many last-ditch efforts to tie the game, but Jonathan Quick stonewalled the Ducks' attempts, giving the Kings a 4-3 victory over the Ducks.[6]

Postseason series

As of completion of the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs, the Ducks and Kings have never met in the postseason. Because both teams are in the same Western Conference, they could theoretically meet in the Western Conference Quarterfinals, Western Conference Semifinals, or Western Conference Finals, but could not meet in the Stanley Cup finals. This differs from the similar Freeway Series between Major League Baseball's Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Los Angeles Dodgers, who can only meet (they have not, yet) in the final World Series round of their postseason.

Had the Ducks eliminated the Detroit Red Wings in Game 7 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals, the Kings and Ducks would've met for the first time ever in the postseason, as the Kings had already advanced to the Western Semifinals. With the Ducks elimination, the Kings instead eliminated both teams' NorCal rival, San Jose Sharks, in the 2013 Conference Semifinals—only the third time that two California NHL teams met in the postseason (previously, Ducks eliminated Sharks in 2009 Conference Quarterfinals and Sharks eliminated Kings in 2011 Conference Quarterfinals).

Fan reaction

While the Freeway Face-off is not as renown as other NHL rivalries, Western Conference hockey fans know the rivalry to be intense. The Los Angeles Kings were the first NHL team in Southern California, brought in by the expansion era of 1967-68. The Anaheim Ducks (formerly Mighty Ducks of Anaheim) came into the league for the 1993-94 season along with the Florida Panthers. With the Kings having been in existence for 26 years before the Ducks arrived, many saw the Ducks as taking away from the Kings' fanbase and attention in the local market. The Kings were known to be one of the teams to establish hockey as a foothold in Southern California, largely due to the help of Wayne Gretzky. The Kings' success of the late 1980s and early 1990s really helped spike interest in hockey in Los Angeles, also spawning the growth of inline hockey. The Ducks' arrival in nearby Orange County brought new fans to the Southern California hockey scene, and creating enmity between the two teams and their fans. Many Kings fans who were disillusioned with the team's status after 1993 became Ducks fans. However, both teams have loyal fanbases in large.

The rivalry is also known for local bragging rights, pitting big-city Los Angeles against its southern neighbor Orange County, which is known to be more suburban. Staples Center and Honda Center are less than an hour apart via local freeways. Many Kings fans fill Honda Center in great numbers, but numerous Ducks fans also make the short trip up the freeway to Staples Center as well. In recent years, crowds at both venues are quite diverse due to both teams' recent successes in the last few seasons.

See also

Other Rivalries in the Los Angeles area

  • Major League Baseball: Freeway Series
  • National Basketball Association: Lakers–Clippers rivalry
  • College Football: UCLA–USC rivalry
  • Major League Soccer: Honda SuperClasico

Former

References

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