Adam Henrique is no stranger to bitter rivalry games.
He was a rookie in the 2011-12 season when he was introduced to one of the NHL’s most heated feuds, the Hudson River rivalry between the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers.
It was during that same campaign — he finished third in Calder Trophy voting for rookie of the year — that Henrique scored the Game 6 overtime winner against the Rangers to advance the Devils to the Stanley Cup Final and ensure he would be remembered in rivalry lore.
After six full seasons in New Jersey, Henrique was dealt to the Ducks in November, and last week he became acquainted with his new squad’s rivalry with the Kings.
When the Ducks and Kings threw down for three fights in the first three minutes, Henrique was reminded of the time his Devils and Rangers had three members of each team punching one another at the opening faceoff.
Henrique and the Ducks will play the Kings again Friday, and for the first time at Honda Center.
“Those games … you always circle them on the calendar,” said Henrique, who has six goals and four assists in 21 games with the Ducks. “It’s that playoff-type atmosphere from the fans to the ice and it’s always ramped up to another level.
“It’s always something you have to be prepared for, but it’s the fun games to play in. It’s exactly what we live for. You’re always looking to step up to that next level and be more intense and play harder and play better. Those games always seem to bring it out in ya.”
Since his debut in a Ducks uniform Dec. 1, Henrique has been valuable on both sides of the ice. The 27-year-old solidified the third line and his playmaking skills have lifted Ondrej Kase’s play to new heights.
Henrique sees Kase as an impact player, and now that the Czech Republic native has recovered from the flu, they’ve had time to build chemistry. Kase has multi-point games in two of his last three outings, and Henrique scored a nifty wrap-around goal in Wednesday’s victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“When we acquired [Henrique], we felt that he was a top-level center iceman, and that’s where we’re gonna play him,” coach Randy Carlyle said. “People have played him on the wing; we don’t see him there.
“He can play there, yes, and we wouldn’t be adverse to playing him there for a game or a shift or whatever, but the bottom line is we like the ability to have strength down the middle at center ice, and he’s filled in quite well for us. He’s fit in to our group.”
Andrew Cogliano will return to the lineup Friday. never returned to a lineup, but he will Friday against the Kings.
The winger’s streak of 830 consecutive games played ended unceremoniously when he was suspended two games for an illegal hit Saturday on Kings rookie Adrian Kempe.
Cogliano admitted the hit was late but didn’t feel it warranted a suspension, and that thought was echoed by his peers, many of whom reached out with messages of support. He took comfort in that, and now Cogliano is ready to fill his regular role as left wing on the checking line alongside Ryan Kesler and Jakob Silfverberg.
“When you sit out, I think you realize how much you miss it and how important it is and how much fun it is to play in this league,” said Cogliano, who signed a three-year extension last week with an annual average value of $3.25 million. “It's a privilege. … I'm at a point now where I think the most important thing is to get back playing and help your team start winning. We're in a big playoff push here and that's all that matters right now.”
Cogliano held back tears when discussing the end of his streak, the fourth-longest in NHL history. It was also the longest active streak in the NHL, and he had never before been suspended. He is a four-time nominee for the Bill Masterton Trophy for sportsmanship.
“It was more of a shock than anything,” he said. “I guess when you play in every game for 11 years, it's something you're not used to. So I think [the emotions] were pretty normal. I just wanted to keep playing and hoped [the streak] would continue.
“I’m past the pity part now in terms of how everything came out to be. … You get a good idea of what people think of you in moments like this.”
DUCKS VS. KINGS
When: Friday, 7 p.m. PT.
On the air: TV: NBCSN. Radio: 830.