The Kings arrived at Dodger Stadium (finally!) on Friday afternoon. They found an ice rink surrounded by a stage for the national anthem singer, a stage for the rock band KISS, a beach volleyball court and a roller rink amid the normal trappings of the iconic ballpark.
With all the pregame build-up in the days and weeks leading up to the first outdoor game in NHL history in California, it was easy to forget this was a business trip for the Kings. To be sure, the novelty of the game was to be celebrated as they took their first turns around the ice.
There also will be an important two points in the standings up for grabs when the third-place Kings play host to the NHL-leading Ducks tonight. The Kings are 17 points behind the Ducks after Thursday’s 2-1 loss at the Honda Center, their fourth in a row and 11th in 15 games.
All the hype and glory of the occasion won’t mean a thing if the Kings (29-17-6) can’t play a better game than Thursday against the Ducks (38-10-5). Or than during a string of defeats to the Columbus Blue Jackets, Boston Bruins and Detroit Red Wings.
“Just a little bit better in almost every area,” defenseman Robyn Regehr said when asked what has to change. “When you’re struggling to win games, which we are right now, you almost have to play, I’m not going to say you have to play a perfect game, but you have to strive to play a perfect game.”
Added center Anze Kopitar: “It’s strictly about hockey. We’ve got to focus on that. It’s always important to get the two points, whether it’s on the road or at home, inside or outside. You always want to get the two points. I’m sure it’s going to be a lot of fun and a great experience.
“At the end of the day, we’d like to get the two points.”
The Kings had their moments against the Ducks, but they scored only one goal to continue a pattern of offensive inefficiency. The Kings have scored more than two goals only four times in a game over their last 15 contests. They have been shut out twice and held to one goal four times.
“I think both teams have enough guys that have won championships and they know the importance of each game,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. “It’s not stressing anything, I don’t think. I don’t think there is anything that jumps out. We played well last night against the team we play tomorrow.”