Freeway Faceoff in Anaheim today

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Tonight is the latest game in the California hockey rivalry known as the “Freeway Faceoff.” The Los Angeles Kings will make the 30.5 mile trip from Staples Center in Los Angeles, to the Honda Center in Anaheim to face the Anaheim Ducks. There are people in the Midwest who are still trying to wrap their heads around the idea that Southern California has two NHL teams.

Kings2For Ducks and Kings fans, the five times these two teams meet this season have been and will be major highlights of the season. It’s not just the standings for the fans, it’s L.A. Basin bragging rights. You will find nearly equal numbers of Kings jerseys as Ducks apparel in the arena so the crowd noise will be deafening, no matter who is controlling the puck or in the lead. And it’s the same when the two teams meet in Los angeles at Staples Center.

The players know it’s a big rivalry. A Freeway Faceoff game is usually a very physical affair in which fans will see more fights and lots of penalty minutes. It will get very serious today because the Kings sit atop the Pacific Division of the Western Conference and the Ducks are in second place, just four points behind Los Angeles.

The first time they met this season was January 17, at the Honda Center. The Kings won 3-2. The second meeting was at Staples Center February 4 and the Ducks took that game, 4-2. There were nine penalties in the game and each team scored a power play goal in the second period.

Ducks1Fans can expect another physical, hotly contested game. If Anaheim can cut into L.A.’s lead in the division, they have a chance to overtake the Kings for home ice advantage in the playoffs. The only time these two teams met in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Kings won the series, 4-3. That was just two years ago and the Ducks had the advantage then. Anaheim even won the Stadium Series game between the two, held at Dodger Stadium in January 2014.

There’s a lot of history between these two teams since the Ducks joined the NHL in 1993. Today it continues in Anaheim: the Los Angeles Kings versus the Anaheim Ducks. Game time is 6 p.m. (PST)

 Claudia Gestro contributed to this article, including all photos.

The last time the Kings and the Ducks met at the Honda Center in Anaheim.

The Kings game against the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday