Rivalry Has Incentive of Playoffs

Times Staff Writers

The Mighty Ducks, who hold the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, have incentive to defeat the Kings tonight at the Arrowhead Pond. Not only are they winless in their last nine games against their Southland rivals, they also want to stay ahead of them in the standings.

"Of course we want to beat them because that's our rivals -- we're only an hour away from each other -- but the most important thing right now is the playoff ramifications," forward Matt Cullen said of the Ducks, who have not defeated the Kings since March 4, 2001. "It's been a long time since we've been in the playoff hunt at this time of the season. Basically, it's like a playoff game."

The Ducks, 0-2-1 against the Kings this season and 0-5-3-1 against them over their last nine meetings, own a five-point lead over Los Angeles in the Pacific Division.

The Kings have a 3-9-0-1 record since defeating the Ducks, 5-4, at Staples Center on Dec. 19.

"It's a good thing for Southern California because there's going to be a lot of emotion out there," Duck forward Marc Chouinard said. "We want to make a stand for the playoffs and I'm sure they do also. So every game from here on is going to be important and playing against those guys just adds more emotion to the game."

Expect goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who has not given up more than three goals in a game since Jan. 1, to be fired up for the Kings. Giguere has not defeated Los Angeles in nearly two years.

"It's important not to give them any life," Giguere said. "We don't want to give them a chance to get back in the race."


With forward Dan Bylsma, who did not play Monday against Minnesota because of a knee injury, listed as day to day, the Ducks recalled center Samuel Pahlsson from Cincinnati of the American Hockey League. Pahlsson, 25, played 80 games for the Ducks last season, finishing with six goals and 20 points.


King Coach Andy Murray downplayed the results of polls conducted by the Toronto Sun in which he emerged as the league's most innovative and underrated coach and Felix Potvin the league's most overrated goaltender.

"As far as being innovative," he said of the findings of a survey of 20 hockey writers and broadcasters, "I'd say that is exaggerated [to rank him No. 1], but if it's warranted at all, I'd say it's due to the work of our assistant coaches."

Of the survey of 15 NHL players that disparaged Potvin, Murray said, "I know what he's done for our team and for me as a coach, so I would strongly disagree."

The Kings' Dave Taylor also fared well in the writer/broadcaster survey, which ranked him the third-most underrated general manager and the fifth smartest.


Bryan Smolinski and Aaron Miller are expected to return to the lineup tonight when the Kings play the first of six games in nine days before the All-Star break.

For both, it has been a stressful season. Miller has been sidelined for 18 games because of a broken left foot. Earlier, he sat out 13 after abdominal surgery. Smolinski has sat out 11 because of a corneal laceration.

Both are eligible for unrestricted free agency this summer.

"It's a big year for me, but there's nothing you can do when you get hurt," Miller said.

"It's been awful timing for me, but right now I just have to concentrate on getting healthy and playing the game. The rest of it will take care of itself."



Kings at Ducks, 7:30

Fox Sports Net 2

Site -- Arrowhead Pond.

Radio -- KPLS (830), KSPN (710).

Records -- Kings 18-20-4-4, Ducks 19-17-7-4.

Season series -- Kings lead, 2-0-1-0.

Update -- After rallying from two goals down with their only three-goal third period this season, the Ducks gave up a tying goal to Brad Chartrand and then were called for too many men on the ice, which led to Smolinski's game-winning goal in the Kings' 5-4 victory last month. The Ducks have won four of their last six games.

Tickets -- (877) 945-3946.

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