Rare is the day that the Kings find themselves in a position to play outdoor hockey games. Their last such game was 2009 against Chicago and since, they’ve played fewer games outdoors than hockey players from other cities.

“We’ve been in three outdoor games and they’ve all been good,” defenseman Drew Doughty said. “If you don’t like playing outdoors, don’t come out to these games. The atmosphere is good and the arena is great. When you look out the window, you see lights, cars on the side streets, people out watching the game. It’s cool.”

Despite the novelty of outdoor games, no one expects a significant spike in attendance for the Feb. 23 Winter Classic at Dodger Stadium, but as with many of the Kings’ wins this season, there’s a back story that makes it special.

The home team is in the middle of a five-game winning streak and had just dispatched the Florida Panthers when word came that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman would be making an announcement for the outdoor game.

The Kings were a heavy favorite, so expectations were tempered until a few minutes before the nationally televised game.

“Once they came out with the announcement of Dodger Stadium, we kind of put more expectations on the game, knowing that everyone is coming to watch,” Doughty said. “That’s the main difference.”

A shakeup in the standings at the top helped with that. The Kings had a five-point lead over Minnesota with five games left in the regular season before Minnesota’s 4-3 win in overtime over Chicago on Tuesday night.

“Now that Minnesota got the lead, you never know,” Doughty said. “We just have to keep doing what we’re doing. There are still five games left and there’s nothing on the line. Everyone is healthy, we just got to keep going.”

As for the Winter Classic, some Kings players thought it would be a good idea. They doubted they’d actually get to play in it, but it’s fun watching it played.

“When you step into that stadium and you see all the people out there, you get goose bumps,” center Anze Kopitar said. “It’s a fun thing to be a part of.”

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