Three things to watch for in Stadium Series matchup
JAN 25, 2014 1:28p ET
The Ducks are soaring while the Kings are struggling but regardless, these two teams always play one another tough and rough whatever the venue.
On the ice and in the stands, here are three things to watch for in tonight's historic matchup.
Black eyes are as much a part of hockey culture as missing teeth but this is different. The stadium lights on the ice cause somewhat of a glare and during Friday night's practices on the outdoor ice, several players from both teams were sporting eye black in an attempt to reduce the effect.
While it's something you would undoubtedly expect to see at a baseball stadium, it was still a little unexpected on hockey players. As several explained, there is an art to it that the players are still trying to perfect.
"As much as we say we wear it for the looks, it does help but it takes a little getting used to," said Ducks' center Nick Bonino. "I played lacrosse in high school and we'd do crazy things like big triangles. I did my whole lower half of my face black one time and that sucked because I sweated and when I sweat it got in my eyes. I learned from that."
However, it's just not for some guys.
"I don't like eye black," said Ducks' defesneman Ben Lovejoy. "I grew up playing lacrosse outside and it would just end up running into my eyes which was worse than bright lights and sun. I'm going to tough it out and just play without it."
Los Angeles has seen an unseasonably warm winter and unusually humid conditions as of late. The good news is that said conditions are not melting the ice like many critics said it would, but it is causing the players to sweat underneath their pads much more than usual.
"It was a little warm, we sweat a little more than you usually do," said Kings' winger Trevor Lewis. "It's definitely a little hotter than most rinks so you definitely have to make sure you stay hydrated."
While it's something for the trainers to be aware of, others said it won't be an issue. The overall experience is worth the extra water.
"It's right around the same," said Kings' defenseman Matt Greene. "It's probably a little warmer out there right now but once everything gets going and you kind of relax a little bit you lose track of what's going on and you just live in the moment."
"I don't think I could hydrate anymore. I am so hydrated that I will be fine," Lovejoy said. "Other people might have to, though."
This game was designed by the NHL, with the assistance of iconic former players like Wayne Gretzky, in an attempt to help grow the sport in Southern California. While it might seem like a non-traditional hockey market, it boasts two of the most marketable teams and, in recent years, two of the most successful teams.
Gretzky and everyone else hope to inspire a few So Cal surfer kids to pick up a stick and give a new sport a try. It's the bigger picture of the entire event.
"It's going to get people who probably aren't traditional hockey fans to watch a game," Greene said. "I think hockey is a sport that if you can get someone to come and watch one time live, then you can get them hooked and hopefully that's what happens here. It's a special venue, you're going to get a lot of people that will get a chance to see a game with the added exposure and the extra seating so hopefully you can turn them and give them something to get passionate about."