Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau played his outdoor hockey under the lights, Kings Coach Darryl Sutter under the stars.
Growing up in Finland, Ducks center Saku Koivu played not on Golden Pond, but on frozen swamps. Kings center Mike Richards spent almost every winter day skating up and down the outdoor community center rink run by his parents in Kenora, Ontario....
In a roundabout way, for player and coach, all those memories will merge Saturday in the most unlikely of venues, Dodger Stadium. For highly paid and occasionally jaded professionals, the excitement level for the NHL's Stadium Series game between the Ducks and Kings is genuine and palpable.
"You'd play with your winter shoes on," Koivu said. "After school, you drop your bag and know there'd be a lot of kids playing. When you think about it, that's what hockey is all about, at its purest.
"There was no pressure. You were just out there having fun, pretending you're somebody in the NHL or the top Finnish league. Now playing in an outdoor game at Dodger Stadium, it's a big step for the kid from Finland."
Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Lance Pugmire of the LA Times,
... a final piece that could help clinch home-ice advantage through the Western Conference playoffs and further improve their chance at a Stanley Cup might be out there, and the Ducks are equipped with the depth to deal.
Whether it be one more shutdown defenseman, an elite scoring forward or another center, Anaheim owns two first-round and two second-round picks in this year's draft, and a wealth of goaltending depth — such as Viktor Fasth — with young forwards who might also emerge as bargaining chips.
Ducks General Manager Bob Murray isn't going to tip his hand right now, and Coach Bruce Boudreau said, "Don't even go there," when asked whether he has a hunch whether the Ducks will act.
"It's up to Bob to assess, but we match up good with most teams," Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano said after scoring the only goal in the Ducks' 1-0 victory over their nearest conference pursuer, St. Louis, Friday night at Honda Center.
"We play a good team game, with good depth from the young guys who've been brought up through the system. Either way, we'll be prepared and push on no matter what happens."
STAMFORD, Conn. – Jan. 27, 2014 – The NHL Stadium Series matchups from iconic venues in Los Angeles and New York this past weekend set viewership records across NBC and NBCSN, continuing NBC Sports Group’s strong NHL ratings this season.
Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry joined Scott Oake and Kelly Hrudey of HNIC in the After Hours segment.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
“It was better than the ice in some NHL arenas,” said Ducks’ defenceman Francois Beauchemin. “It wasn’t an issue out there.”
Teemu Selanne, a veteran of five Olympic Games and a Stanley Cup championship in 2007, said he ranked the event “high on his bucket list” of career achievements.
“The whole package was outstanding,” said Selanne. “The atmosphere was unbelievable. You don’t have many chances to play in front of 55,000 people in California, outdoors, when you can see the stars. It was awesome. I’m going to remember this … and I can’t see any reason why we shouldn’t do this more.
“We were most worried about the ice and they did a great, unbelievable job. It was a great surprise that the ice was as good as it was – because obviously, the quality of the hockey, it can even be dangerous if the ice is not so good. Those guys, they were pros. It was maybe a little slower than normal rinks, but it was nice and smooth. In the third period, it got a little more sluggish, but that’s how every building is. I have no complaints.”
The game’s first star was a toss-up. It was either Ducks’ goaltender Jonas Hiller, who had a 36-save shutout in a game where the Kings held a territorial edge for the final 50 minutes, or Dan Craig, the NHL’s ice-making guru, who did what few thought possible and produced a thoroughly playable ice surface.
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
LA Kings equipment manager Darren Granger discusses what adjustments have been made for the outdoor game at Dodger Stadium.
One of the challenges, keeping the players cool.
from Lisa Dillman and Lance Pugmire of the LA Times,
Where have I heard this before?
"It's a mans game and you'd better be prepared to be hit."
-Anaheim Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau after beating the LA Kings 2-1 last night.
More from Scott Burnside of ESPN plus Custance on the Senators, LeBrun on the Leafs and Strang on the Blues.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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