Even though California is hardly thought of as the best environment for NHL franchises, both the Los Angeles Kings and the Anaheim Ducks have proven that not only can the state support multiple teams, but that they can also be successful and take home the Stanley Cup. With both teams competing in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference, these two teams have had plenty of opportunity to play one another and build up a good in-state rivalry.
Unfortunately for fans of the Ducks, this season has proven fairly unsuccessful thus far. Anaheim ranks far in the cellar of the Pacific Division, while the Kings are fighting hard at the top of the division for first place. Looking at the team ratings in NHL 12—which have the Kings solidly in front for Offense, Defense, and Goaltending—these results are not overly surprising. With this background in mind, I took control of the Ducks playing at home against the rival Kings in search of an underdog victory.
The game began very one-sided in favor of the Ducks; as the shot totals show, I managed to put 12 shots on goal while the Kings did not manage a single opportunity to try and put points on the board. Dustin Brown of Los Angeles took a slashing penalty 12:27 into the first period, and though the Kings were able to kill off the penalty time, Kurtis Foster of the Ducks buried a slapshot into the back of the net just 30 seconds after the penalty expired to give Anaheim a 1-0 lead. Considering how drastic the shots were skewed in favor of the home team, however, much respect was given to Kings goalie Jonathan Quick for keeping his team in the game when the score could have become much more one-sided.
For as dominating a performance as I’d managed in the opening frame, however, the Kings responded just as well in the second period. Ryan Getzlaf of the Ducks took a penalty for roughing just 43 seconds into the period and on the ensuing power play, Anze Kopitar took advantage of a bad clearing pass by the Anaheim defense to score into the open side of the net on Jonas Hiller.
Less than two minutes after that tying goal, Bobby Ryan scored on a pass from Ryan Getzlaf to put Anaheim back on top with a 2-1 score. Even though the Ducks took another penalty—this time to Corey Perry for tripping—no further goals were scored in the period, though Los Angeles put 18 shots on goal compared to Anaheim’s 6 in the middle frame. Considering how many shots were taken on the two power plays for the Kings in the second period, Hiller became the unsung hero to keep Anaheim from falling behind after they’d failed to build a bigger lead with their opening shot advantage.
In the third period, the action went back-and-forth for much of the final 20 minutes. After the 18 shot explosion in the second, Los Angeles managed only 4 more shots on goal before the end of the game. Meanwhile, Anaheim had 9 more shots, and converted on two of them; both from Ryan Getzlaf. The first goal came 17:03 into the period to bring the score to 3-1, and then in the last minute of the period LA’s Dustin Brown took another penalty, this time for boarding. Down two goals, the Kings pulled their goalie to try and even up the play but the decision backfired when Getzlaf scored into the empty net with 6 seconds remaining to set the final score at 4-1.
In terms of final team statistics, Anaheim managed only a slight edge in shots despite taking 12 shots to LA’s 0 in the first period. The Ducks also more than doubled LA’s time on attack, which contributed heavily to the scoring output. Each team took two penalties and converted on one of their two power plays, though the Kings used considerably more of the power play time in doing so. The Kings held the clear advantage in terms of face-offs won, but they were unable to turn that puck control into a win for this California hockey rivalry.
When the 3 Stars of the Game were revealed, it was unsurprising to see that all three were Anaheim players. Getzlaf’s two goals and one assist put him in the #1 spot while Kurtis Foster came in second with a goal and an assist. Bobby Ryan’s game-winning goal was good enough to give him the third and final star position.
All in all, I had few complaints about my performance in another one-sided victory in NHL 12 here for STAT BOX STORIES. If I had to point out one thing that needed improvement in the game, it would probably be my passing percentage; at 70%, it was well behind LA’s number in that category and there’s a chance that I would have been able to post a shutout against the Kings if not for the ill-advised pass that set up Kopitar with an open net for the long goal allowed by Hiller. In the long run, however, continuing to win always takes precedence over individual statistical achievements like shutouts.
With this victory, the STAT BOX STORIES results move up to 2-0 for this sixth week of the project. Tomorrow I’ll be taking on the unenviable task of playing as a significant underdog when I play as Werder Bremen against Bayern München; better known as Bayern Munich to those of us outside of Germany. Be sure to come back and see if I can continue my winning streak!