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Ducks Gameday—Sloppy Seconds in SoCal

Chicago Blackhawks (27-34-9, t-11th in west) at Anaheim Ducks (42-17-12, 3rd in west)

The last Ducks/Kings meeting of the season is this weekend, but before we get into the actual head-to-head, I thought I’d take a look at how these geographical buddies have done when it comes to handling mutual visitors, such as is the case currently with the Chicago Blackhawks (last night at Staples, tonight at Honda).

For simplicity’s sake (on my end), I am only looking at instances where a visiting team played in one of our buildings and then played in the other building within the next two days. Since the lockout, there have been 35 instances of this (including tonight), that break down as follows:
  • 13 times a team played one night at Staples and the next night at Honda Center.
  • 7 times a team played one night at Staples and then at Honda Center 2 nights later.
  • 10 times a team played one night at Honda and the next night at Staples Center.
  • 5 times a team played one night at Honda and then at Staples Center 2 nights later.
So essentially, that’s 20 times a team has faced the Kings first, and 15 times a team has faced the (Mighty) Ducks first. Now Kings fans, before you get in a tizzy about how unfair this is, let’s take a gander at how the SoCal teams have responded to these schedule quirks:
When visitors go to Staples Center first:
Kings record on the first game: 13-4-3, outscoring opponents 3.05 – 2.68.
Ducks record on the second game: 14-1-4, outscoring opponents 3.78 – 2.56.

Combined: 27-5-7, outscoring opponents 3.41 – 2.62

When visitors go to Honda Center first:
Ducks record on the first game: 8-6-1, outscoring opponents 3.73 – 3.60.
Kings record on the second game: 7-8-0, outscored 2.67 – 2.93.

Combined: 15-14-1, outscored 3.20 – 3.26.
So, going by the surface data, it appears that actually both teams are better off with the L.A.-before-Anaheim scenario. Possible explanations?

  • Team strengths—Ducks may be better-equipped to take advantage of road weariness, given their team speed and hard-hitting attitude. They are better off when the Kings "soften up" their opponents, and are generally more capable of capitalizing on a tired team.
  • Dumb luck—it may be just happenstance that teams that are more beatable get more often put into the L.A.-first situation. Proper analysis would account for this, but being Friday, I’m pretty lazy, so just using the "glance-over" technique, I’ll postulate that this is not the case. The quality of teams in each scenario seem fairly equivalent.
  • Psychology—maybe, given the comparative status of the two host teams, teams aren’t handling the play-the-Kings-first situation very well. They may be "looking ahead to the Ducks" on that first night, and by the time they get to that second game, they are regretting their crummy result from the night (or two nights) before.
Well, whatever explanation seems to fit, at least the results seem to indicate that the Blackhawks are in trouble tonight. Given the fact that Pacific-division chasers are both on a roll (Dallas is 4-0 in its last 4, while the Sharks are 5-0-1 in their last 6), let’s hope the pattern holds true.

Let's get lucky, Ducks!

Prediction: Ducks 6, Blackhawks 2. Goals by Selanne x2, Penner x2, Pahlsson, and Scotty.