Los Angeles Kings
@ Winnipeg Jets
Thursday, Dec 29, 2011, 8:30 PM EST
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The Los Angeles Kings roll into town having won their last two games and, in general, are starting to climb back up the Fenwick rankings (not to mention the league standings). In other words, they're looking more and more like the team a lot of us expected to see, and the scary part is their PDO (particularly their shooting percentage) has a ways to go before it stabilizes. Obviously, this is all happening because they changed coaches...
The Kings carry an almost identical record to the Jets' (18-14-5 to the Jets' 17-14-5), and you can bet we want to continue to creep towards the top in our division. Our hope
lies doesn't lie in a red-hot Ondrej Pavelec, who's gone 6-3-1 over his last 10 games with a 94.0 SV%, 1.95 GAA, and 2 shutouts while facing 32.7 shots per 60 minutes (because Chris Mason is starting, go figure), not to mention solid work from Evander Kane (5 goals and 10 points over the same span) and Blake Wheeler (12 points in 10). The return of Tobias Enstrom couldn't hurt, either, though he's only taken 3 shots in his 5 games back and I wonder if he's 100% healed from his injury (recall he wasn't expected to return until January).
Projected lineups and keys to the game after the jump...
Keys to the Game
- Neutralize Anze Kopitar, force the offence to work through Mike Richards. Kopitar is still playing pretty well, and there's no doubt the bulk of the Los Angeles offence comes from his hands, so it wouldn't be the worst approach to make them lean on the only-recently-returned-from-injury Richards. Richards is shooting a little bit over his head this year, and Kopitar isn't, so it might be the better approach regression-wise.
- Keep pouring the shots on. If there's one thing we've been pretty good at, it's getting shots; conversely, if there's something we're bad at, it's giving up shots. Regardless, to offset the latter we need to get plenty of the former. Pretty much a lose-lose for Pavs (or Mason, as is the case today), but hey they're used to it.
- Uh, maybe we need to back off on Meat's (Antti Miettinen's) minutes a little...dude's getting slaughtered so far facing tough competition. Part of it, I'm sure, is getting used to new teammates, and a new system, but that's why you ease him into tougher minutes.
- He's not playing extraordinary, but I like the idea of keeping Stapleton on the powerplay. He seems to really make himself a part of the bigger plays with the man advantage, and sometimes (like last game) he shows up on the scoreboard.
- Be patient with Andrew Ladd. He's actually playing a pretty solid game (we're outshooting the opposition 31.3 to 24.7 for every 60 minutes he's on the ice), but is a bit of an adventure in the offensive zone. He'll find the net, provided Noel continues to give him the time.
- We benefit from the fact that the Kings are coming over having played a tough game last night against the 'Hawks (though a victorious one) and are missing Simon Gagne.
- Let's keep the trend from last game and not take a bunch of penalties. That would help.
#9 Evander Kane - #14 Tim Stapleton - #26 Blake Wheeler
#16 Andrew Ladd - #80 Nik Antropov - #13 Kyle Wellwood
#15 Tanner Glass - #8 Alexander Burmistrov - #20 Antti Miettinen
#17 Eric Fehr - #28 Patrice Cormier - #22 Chris Thorburn
#39 Tobias Enstrom - #6 Ron Hainsey
#29 Johnny Oduya - #4 Zach Bogosian
#5 Mark Stuart - #36 Mark Flood
#50 Chris Mason
We're all sorts of messed up on D, with Noel shifting players around (no Boogie with Stu!) and Bustin' day-to-day. Bryan Little is still out.
#15 Brad Richardson - #11 Anze Kopitar - #23 Dustin Brown
#25 Dustin Penner - #28 Jarret Stoll - #14 Justin Williams
#48 Andrei Loktionov - #10 Mike Richards - #22 Trevor Lewis
#13 Kyle Clifford - #24 Colin Fraser - #47 Trent Hunter
#7 Rob Scuderi - #8 Drew Doughty
#3 Jack Johnson - #2 Matt Greene
#33 Willie Mitchell - #26 Slava Voynov
#45 Jonathan Bernier
The Gagne injury puts Richardson in an interesting spot, and last game apparently Richards was given time with the young 'uns. I'm proposing that Bernier is starting solely because Jonathan Quick had a very busy night last night (38 saves for the shutout).
Prediction: Jets win, 4 to 2, against a tired but not entirely punchless Kings.