The Kings and Ducks enter their first meeting of the season as two teams headed in different directions.

After tonight's game at Honda Center, the Kings face the lockout-year equivalent of a grueling trip, playing four games in seven days in Columbus, Nashville, Detroit and St. Louis. Since there are no games between the Eastern and Western conferences during the 48-game regular season, that's as grueling as it gets.

"We have to go through three time zones," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said Thursday, after a tedious shootout loss to Nashville left his team with a 2-2-2 record. "That's my first thought after we play Anaheim."

The Ducks? They're on game five of a rare stretch of six straight games in California.

It would be hard for the Ducks to complain about the results so far.

They're 4-1-1 overall and nearly knocked off the Sharks on Tuesday in San Jose, ultimately losing in a shootout. Nobody's beaten the Sharks (7-0-0), who lead the Pacific Division by a comfortable margin.

"I think we built up some momentum," Ducks defenseman Luca Sbisa said prior to Friday's game against the Minnesota Wild. "We want to carry that over and build it even more."

Put in perspective, it's still too soon to draw conclusions about either team's place in the hockey universe. A typical NHL preseason lasts seven or eight games; the Kings and Ducks have both played six games so far. If the 113-day lockout had not eliminated the

preseason, Sutter and Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau would be making their final roster cuts at this point in the season.

So it figures that both teams aren't in midseason form - even though February is the traditional NHL midseason - and both coaches have tinkered with their lineups like it's September.