In a rare situation the Kings and Jets may have run into each at the airport last night as both flew in to Los Angeles for their game tonight. Both teams suffered bad defeats in last nights road games. Jonathan Quick did manages steal LA a point, but neither team is looking for a repeat performance tonight.
A little over a year ago these two teams met in and early season matchup. In that one Winnipeg was dominant on route to a 5-3 victory over the Kings. From that moment on their seasons went in completely opposite tracks as WPG would spiral down the standings, never seriously challenging for a playoff spot, whereas LA would cruised in to playoff and eventually win Lord Stanley's prize. Jet's are certainly hoping to repeat last year's game albeit with better long runl result of the season.
Game time - 9 PM Central. TV - TSN-3. Radio - TSN 1290.
Coming off a game where they failed to mount anything offensively and struggled to deal with size, the defending cup champions are the last team you'd pick to cure those woes, however the schedule is what it is and the show must go on.
On the personnel side the Jets will once again be without Evander Kane. Despite his outburst last game Dustin Byfuglien will likely be back in top 6 replacing him. This leaves the bottom 6 with very little offensive talent outside of off-season acquisition Mathieu Perreault. The top 6 will once be relied upon heavily for offense. It is unknown at the time of publishing if the first two games healthy scratches forward Anthony Peluso and defenseman Grant Clitsome will slot in. It is also unknown whether Ondrej Pavelec will make a 3rd straight start or if Michael Hutchinson will make his first start of the season.
Keys to the Game
1. Production from the top six: With very little to no offensive talent in the bottom six the top six needs to step up. They failed completely in San Jose. This game needs to be different or an all to similar results will happen.
2. Tighten up the d-zone coverage: LA has been the best cycle team in the league the past half decade or so. The Jets struggled mightily containing the San Jose forecheck last night and has struggled in past year's in d-zone coverage. All to often the Jets defense get caught running around in the d-zone while not actually applying pressure to the attackers. If they fail to have proper coverage against the big strong Kings they will get burned.
3. Quick start: Both teams are reeling after setbacks. Confidence can be a tricky thing and getting off to a quick start in a tiring back to back situation can be the difference between gaining it and collapsing. Take advantage of the slower Kings team early.
Los Angeles Kings
While the Kings have won two of the past three Stanley Cups this is not a team known for regular season success. The last time the Kings had home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs was 1992 (before Jacob Trouba was born). This year has been no different as the Kings have already been embarrassed by San Jose, then they were completely dominated by Arizona in an OTL last night.
LA is currently without "advanced stats hero" Jake Muzzin and depth forward Trevor Lewis. Both are day to day with minor injuries but neither are expected to play for LA. Martin Jones is expected to make his first start of the season after posting a .934 save percentage and 1.81 goals against average in 19 games as a rookie last season. LA has managed to score just two goals in their first two games. The notoriously goal deprived LA team has yet to find their offensive groove.
Keys to the Game
1. Get the offense rolling: LA has struggled to score goals over the past few seasons, this why they've made moves to add the speedy Marian Gaborik and sniper Jeff Carter. They have also promoted sniper Tyler Toffoli and playmaker Tanner Pearson. So far the offense has yet to emerge but the weapons are there. The will be looking to get going against the notoriously poor Winnipeg defense.
2. Use the forecheck: The Jets have struggled to contain big talented teams down low on the forecheck. That is LA's biggest strength. Lots of offense can be generated out of these situations if used properly.
3. Slow down Jets neutral zone: Jets have plenty of speed moving through the neutral zone. Kings have some slow footed D in Robyn Regehr and Matt Greene. They need to find a way to slow down the quick transition game of the Jets.
Kings find their game. Jets do not. 4-1 Kings with Bown scoring twice, Carter and Doughty also adding scores. Dustin Byfuglien responds for WPG.
Player to Boo Mercilessly
You can't. It's a road game.