SoCal Hockey Teams Poised for National Playoffs

Shearson Unda and Jane Pojawa

The National Hockey League playoffs are in full tilt, and for the first time in the league’s history all three teams from California have clinched spots in the post season. Two teams are Southern California squads: the Anaheim Ducks and the Los Angeles Kings.

The 2011 NHL season marks the first year the Ducks and the Kings have ever secured playoff births in the same year since Anaheim’s expansion in 1993.

The Anaheim Ducks had a solid run at the end of the regular season with an 11-4-1 record clinching the fourth spot in the Western Conference. Corry Perry, who was the only player in the league to score 50 or more goals this season, led the team. Perry and line mates Bobby Ryan and Ryan Getzlaf combined for 245 points in the regular season. Former King defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky led the NHL with 68 points for the Ducks this season.

The Kings on the other hand were plagued with injuries heading into the end of the season. Despite making the playoffs and nailing the seventh spot in the Western Conference, they entered the playoffs without top scorer Anze Kopitar who had 73 points this season. He sustained an ankle injury against the Colorado Avalanche at the end of March. The second leading scorer, Justin Williams, was inserted freshly into the playoff roster after missing the final nine games of the season with a dislocated shoulder.

This is the second season in a row the Los Angeles Kings enter the playoffs after a successful regular season and only the fifth time since 2000 that they have seen the post season. Only succeeding up to the conference semifinals in 2001, that season is where they were eliminated in seven games against the Avalanche.

The Anaheim Ducks have seen much more success than their cross-town rivals. Although the Ducks have been to the playoffs as many times as the Los Angeles Kings, its success in the post season took them all the way up to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2003 and 2007. In 2007 the Ducks defeated the Ottawa Senators four games to one to secure their very first Stanley Cup championships in the team’s brief history.

The Los Angeles Kings open up its playoff series on the road against their Northern California rivals, the San Jose Sharks. The Anaheim Ducks play host to the Western Conference fifth Nashville Predators. The teams in the NHL will follow a best-out-of-seven playoff format all the way up to the Stanley Cup final.