Look at them all, through the darkness I am bringing. They're not sad at all. They're actually singing. They sing without juicers. They sing without blenders. They sing without flungers, cabdabblers, and smendlers!
That quote from Mr. Burns reminds me a lot of Winnipeg Jets' fans right now. Their franchise remains entrenched in a five team battle for a Western Conference wild card spot and they are without rookie centre Mark Scheifele for essentially the rest of the season; but you'd never know it.
Though there is a small cluster of trepidation's fans who clutch at their Rosaries saying "oh no", many are upbeat -- even jovial -- over the Jets' current situation.
This evening, the Jets play host to a visiting Los Angeles Kings squad in a rare 6:00PM CST home start. The Kings are quietly having themselves a solid campaign, overshadowed by the torrid pace set by divisional opponents in the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks.
No one Los Angeles player has lit the league ablaze offensively this season. Instead, they have relied on a roster that has scored in droves, evidenced by their nine players to mark 20+ point campaigns. Slovenian sensation Anze Kopitar leads all Kings with 52 points.
This will be the second meeting between the two Western Conference teams, the first resulting in a 5-3 Jets' victory back in early October.
So as the hourglass of this 2013-14 season continues to melt down and the number of important contests continue to ratchet up, it will be important for Winnipeg to win by any means necessary, should they wish to taste the sweet nectar of postseason hockey.
Keys to the Game
By any means necessary: Under the Paul Maurice tenure, the Jets have scratched and clawed for many of their wins. When you're in a dog fight in the standings column, how you win isn't the most crucial aspect to gaining two points in the standings. To quote the immortal Al Davis, "just win, baby". So long as Winnipeg doesn't try to win pretty, they should be fine.
Flexible Frolik: Without Mark Scheifele in the line-up, the Jets will call on Michael Frolik assume the role of centre as we enter tonight's game. While he has some experience playing the position, it will be imperative that he remain one of Winnipeg's best two-way players through this transition.
Win the special teams battle: Winnipeg was 0/5 on the power play against the New York Islanders on Tuesday and wound up losing 3-2 in overtime. Though they've struggled on the man advantage for most of the year, they will need to make a team of Los Angeles's quality pay should they take penalties.
Los Angeles Kings
Pepper Pavelec: Since returning from the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Ondrej Pavelec has been his stoutest ever in a Jets' uniform. But historical stats show peaks and valleys in his play opposed to consistent net-minding. It would be of great service to the Kings if they put the heat on Pavelec early and often in an attempt to get him off his game.
Better call Quick: The Kings are among the NHL's best as it pertains to goals against per game and at the heart of that has been the play of Jonathan Quick and Martin Jones. Since working his way back from injury, Quick has posted a .939 SV% in his past five games and looks to have things back on track.
Control the dot: Much of their success defensively relates to the fact the Kings rank second in the NHL in face-off wins. Playing against a Jets' team who ranks dead last in this category, it's likely we will see the guys in polar blue chasing the puck for most of the game.
Player to boo mercilessly
Jonathan Quick because he's a big baby who cries.
Mike Richards makes it rain points as his two goals and one assist lead the Los Angeles Kings in a 5-2 win.