The Winnipeg Jets west coast swing of terror continues tonight in Los Angeles against the Kings.
The Kings have been on a consistent run of “win a game lose a game then win a game” since just before the start of the new year. They have struggled in losses to Vancouver, Detroit, Edmonton San Jose but have played quite well against the likes of Minnesota, St. Louis and San Jose.
They won their last game on Thursday in impressive fashion against the Blues, so perhaps there is a chance for the Jets to catch them on a down swing night? For it to happen, the Jets are going to need their offense to come through against a Kings team that is surprisingly stingy on defense.
Winnipeg Jets | 20-22-3 | 6th in Central
There is no way to sugar coat it, the Jets are a mess.
After being humiliated on national TV in a amazingly lame effort against the Montreal Canadiens, Paul Maurice decided against a “bag skate” type practice the following day, citing the road schedule coming up ahead and that he “didn’t want excuses” should the Jets follow up with another lame performance in Glendale.
Only they did do just that. Connor Hellebuyck continued to struggle the defense in front of him continued to do anything but actually defend in their own zone and the Jets were quickly down 4-1 after 20 minutes of play.
To their credit, the Jets “rallied” (if you can call not allowing another goal while scratching and clawing for two goals of your own a rally) and made the score a deceptively close 4-3 final. After the game the players held a players only meeting – likely to prevent the one vein in Paul Maurice’s forehead from bursting – and then gave short, terse answers to the same old clichéd questions that would have made Greg Popovich proud.
How much of a mess are the Jets? TSN resorted to showing a Mark Stuart highlight clip reel at the end of the game because he was one of the lone bright spots on the night.
If Mark Stuart is your highlight guy, you’re in trouble.
Of course after all of this, nothing has actually changed. We assume Hellebuyck may get the start but who knows? He only saw about 10 minutes of action before getting hooked. Hutch was actually pretty decent last night stopping 22 of 23, so will Maurice give him what in effect will be back-to-back games?
Los Angeles Kings | 21-17-4 | 5th in Pacific
After a crazy game against the Dallas Stars on Monday that saw a wild 3rd period, the Kings looked a lot more like themselves on Thursday against the Blues in dominant a 5-1 win. It was a rare “easy” win for the Kings this season as they spend most nights in tight checking one goal games that have seen them needing to scrap and claw back into games after falling behind early.
The Kings can generate offense, they just can’t seem to do so with any consistency. Jeff Carter leads the team with 22 goals and behind him is Tanner Pearson who with two goals against St. Louis is now up to 13. Those two players are the only Kings to have managed to score goals into the double digits. Anze Kopitar is having a horrible year overall with only 4 goals and 21 points, though he has been starting to produce more as of late.
On the back end, the Kings rank in the top ten in goals against per game only giving up 2.5 and it’s what has been keeping the Kings afloat in the tough Pacific division. Peter Budaj has filled in for the injured Jon Quick very admirably – there had even been talk that maybe he deserved an All-Star game nomination.
The Kings have a top ten penalty kill (84% which is good for 8th place) and they also lead the league in fewest shots against per game with 25.7.