Sitting nine points out with just eight games left, pinning any sort of playoff hopes on the Winnipeg Jets is a fruitless venture.
All that's left is pride.
The Los Angeles Kings currently sit in a playoff spot, but their lead over the Phoenix Coyotes has hold has slipped after they dropped a series of games in early March. They have now won five straight after breaking through a three game winless drought and appear to be back on the rails.
Winnipeg is coming off a big win in San Jose on Thursday thanks a late goal by Tobias Enstrom. It was a complete team effort by the Jets with Blake Wheeler leading with way with a goal and two assists. Al Montoya made his eighth straight start in place of the injured Ondrej Pavelec in which he improved his record to a mere 3-4-1 with a .903 save percentage in those starts, putting serious doubt on the long term potential of the thus far career backup netminder. Michael Frolik also matched his career high in assists after getting two in the last game, now sitting on twenty-four on the season.
Los Angeles meanwhile it's starting to see the payoff of their late season addition of Marian Gaborik seeing the Slovakian winger score six points in his last eight games. Goaltender Jonathan Quick is also finding his game of late with ten wins in his last twelve games, including two shutouts and a .933 save percentage. This Kings team is becoming notorious for late season charges and they seem to be heating up again.
Keys to Victory
Chip it out: Los Angeles is a big, heavy team that loves to play the grind game down below the opposition net. Jets will need to move it out quickly to not allow the Kings to set up.
Watch Out for the Speed: Despite being a big team the Kings have over the past couple of years become a much faster team. They now have some very fast wingers like Gaborik, Jeff Carter, and a finally recovered Dustin Brown that can quickly push the play through the neutral zone. It's easy to be lulled by the big Kings.
Special Teams: Kings are one of the few teams with a powerplay actually worse than the Jets and they have been shorthanded the 3rd most times in the NHL. The Jets need to take advantage there.
Los Angeles Kings
Depth: Kings really have no need to line match a team like Winnipeg, they should be able to wear down Winnipeg with their 4 line attack. Keep coming at the Jets weak bottom line and defensive pairing.
Move the Puck Quick: Kings have some great puck movers on the back end with Drew Doughty, Slava Voynov, and Alec Martinez. Jets have struggled with the quick transition all year, Kings should be able to easily take advantage of this.
Just Play Your Game: Kings are simply a much better team. Kings should be able to dictate the pace of the game, make the Jets play are your speed.
Los Angeles 5
Who to Boo
Dustin Brown because he is like Raffi Torres without the bad press.