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Game #74 Preview: Los Angeles Kings at Winnipeg Jets

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Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

Your Winnipeg Jets take on a Los Angeles Kings squad who once again have quite legitimate Stanley Cup aspirations.

With a record of 7-3-1, it's been a rather successful March for the LA Kings. They may however be rather ornery at the moment, as two of those L's came back-to-back earlier this week. Having fallen 5-2 to Nashville and then 2-1 to Minnesota, the Kings will look to keep it from becoming three straight tonight. Fortunately for them, the Kings are adept both at home and on the road, sporting tallies of 23-11-2 and 21-13-3, respectively.

On the other hand, the Winnipeg Jets will wrap up a four game homestand with tonight's tilt. After losing the first half against strong opponents in Chicago and Anaheim, Winnipeg dominated the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday. While the score was only 2-0, the shots were 49-28 in favour of Winnipeg and the fancy stats equally unevenAs per Natural Stat Trick, Jets fans were treated to what an actually terrible team looks like:

WPGvsVAN

Catch the game tonight, 7:00 PM Central Time on FS-W, TSN3 and TSN 1290.

It's a Numbers Game

Los Angeles Kings

Winnipeg Jets

Record

44-24-5

30-37-6

Division-Conference-League

1st - 3rd - 4th

7th - 13th - 28th

Last 10 - Streak

6-3-1 - L2

4-5-1 - W1

Goals For / Game

2.70 (14th)

2.52 (24th)

Goals Against / Game

2.26 (1st)

2.92 (26th)

Shots For / Game

32.1 (3rd)

29.9 (15th)

Shots Against / Game

27.6 (4th)

29.7 (14th)

5v5 Corsi For %

55.8% (1st)

51.8% (10th)

Power Play %

20.5% (9th)

14.6% (29th)

Penalty Kill %

81.3% (14th)

78.5% (25th)

PIM / Game

10:43 (23rd)

11:45 (27th)

The 2015-16 Los Angeles Kings are a juggernaut of a team. The have the third highest 5v5 Shots For per 60 and the second best 5v5 Shots Against per 60. The result is a 5v5 Shots For % atop the NHL. The results are even more favourable when looking at 5v5 Corsi For per 60 and 5v5 Corsi Against per 60.

This is a team which can both out-chance and out-defend you (unless you're the Dallas Stars, and even then only on the former). Combined with a top-10 power play and adequate penalty kill, the Los Angeles Kings have earned their place atop the Pacific Division.

Jonathan Low

Jonathan Quick

Ondrej Pavelec

Record

37-19-4

9-13-2

Overall SV%

.920%

.904%

ES SV%

.931%

.916%

PP SV%

.875%

.856%

Ondrej Pavelec starts for Winnipeg. While his overall save percentage of .904% comes in behind Michael Hutchinson's .905%, Pavelec continues to have the significantly better numbers at even strength.

Though Jonathan Quick's overall save percentage of .920% is a ways away from the .929% he posted in 2011-12, the two performances are closer than they first appear. That's because at even strength, the gap is significantly smaller. Quick posted a .933 Ev Sv% in 2011-12, as opposed to the .931 Ev Sv% he currently possesses this season.

Among the 45 goalies who have at least 25 games played, Quick's .920% ranks a solid 14th (funnily enough, tied with San Jose starter and former LA understudy Martin Jones). Quick's .931 Ev Sv% comes in 14th as well, providing a firm final line of defence for the Kings.

On top of these sturdy numbers, Quick also has an occasional and undeniable flair for the dramatic:

Guess who's back, back again

Drew Doughty

Dustin Byfuglien

GP - Goals - Assists - Points

73 - 14 - 33 - 47

72 - 16 - 28 - 44

Power Play Points

22

16

Shooting %

8.1%

7.1%

TOI / Game

28:11

24:57

PP TOI / Game

03:09

03:22

SH TOI / Game

02:59

02:02

5v5 Corsi For RelTM%

+4.9%

+4.4%

5v5 Penalty Differential

-7

-20


Drew Doughty comes into tonight's tilt hot, with three points in his last four games. On pace for 16 goals and 53 points, the 26-year-old is having an excellent season for Los Angeles, even if Erik Karlsson should still win the Norris.

Meanwhile, Alec Martinez provides more than competent production behind Doughty and Jake Muzzin. With 30 points in 73 games, the 28-year-old LHD has already set career highs in both categories. A mainstay in all situations, LA likely did well locking him up for six years at $4 million per.

And just like that, another one bites the dust on Winnipeg's injury front. The 6'8" mammoth of a man is not without his faults, but was (and will probably remain) second among Jets defencemen in scoring. Aside from his nine goals and 27 points, Myers was also second among defencemen in ATOI with 22:37. It will be interesting to see the on-ice fallout resulting from his absence.

At the time of Mark Stuart's injury on February 13th, the Winnipeg Jets penalty kill was running at an abysmal 77.8%. In the 18 games he's been out, it's killed 46 of 57 times shorthanded, an 80.7% success rate.

Issues with the PK clearly remain; 80.7% would currently rank all of 22nd out of 30. But it's not at all shocking that taking away the PK regular worst at shot suppression might dovetail with an uptick in successful kills.

First, a quick refresher: what is Corsi? It's an expanded understanding and counting of shots. Corsi counts shots on goal, plus shot attempts which miss the net and blocked shots. If anything, it's more extension than revolution.

Corsi Against is equated with "shot suppression" because CA simply counts the amount of shot attempts a player faces while on the ice. A better (see: lower) Corsi Against means that the player, in conjunction with teammates on the ice all playing within a team's system, is more able at limiting chances by the opposition. "Per 60" is usually slapped on because adjusting to a standard rate accounts for uneven usage and resulting differences in raw totals.

Now, back to Mark Stuart and the aforementioned shot suppression slight against him. Even after missing the last 18 games with a broken hand, Mark Stuart is still second only to Jacob Trouba in shorthanded TOI among Winnipeg defencemen. He is without a doubt one of, if not the Jets penalty killing regular.

And when he is on the ice, the Jets are absolutely terrible at limiting shot attempts against. Of the five Jets defencemen who have played over 100 shorthanded minutes, Stuart has the worst (see: highest) Corsi Against per 60 at 112.44. By contrast, Dustin Byfuglien comes in first with a CA60 of just 84.30.

(While at 122.95, Ben Chiarot does have a worse CA60 than Stuart, he's also played just 33:11 shorthanded TOI to Stuart's 170:13. As such, it's hard to consider Chiarot a PK regular.)

The difference between Stuart and Byfuglien is a dramatic one. Of the 118 NHL defencemen who have played at least 100 minutes on the PK, Byfuglien's CA60 ranks tenth, whereas Mark Stuart comes in 114th. His shot suppression talents look bad not just when looking at the Winnipeg Jets, but the entire league.

Now, this does not answer the question of why his numbers are horrendous. Does Mark Stuart play, even invite the blocked shot opportunity (otherwise known as Kris Russell syndrome)? On a related note, might there be a tendency to lose positioning and/or questionable awareness? While Stuart's CA60 is worst among regulars, what systems problems are at play given the three other d-men with poor PK performance (and how does Dustin Byfuglien seemingly overcome said problems)?

Answering the question of why requires a more knowledgeable eye than my own. What I can say for certain is that when Mark Stuart is on the penalty kill, it's fair to expect an unrelenting siege.

Danish Delight

Jeff Carter

Mark Scheifele

GP - Goals - Assists - Points

68 - 18 - 33 - 51

62 - 24 - 23 - 47

Power Play Points

10

8

Shooting %

8.7%

14.0%

TOI / Game

18:15

18:10

PP TOI / Game

02:20

02:36

SH TOI / Game

01:40

00:18

5v5 Corsi For RelTM%

-1.5%

+2.8%

5v5 Penalty Differential

+8

+9

With 15 points in his last 12 games, Anze Kopitar is leading Los Angeles by example. The Kings star centre is on pace for 75 points, which would be his highest total since 2011-12. The 6'3" Slovenian native should provide a stiff challenge for Mark Scheifele & Co. tonight, and it will be interesting to see how the young Winnipeg 1C responds.

Nik(olaj) Ehlers and Joel Armia return to the lineup, slotting in at 1LW and 2LW, respectively. Prior to his injury, Ehlers had been on a run of five points in six games while averaging 19:24 TOI over that span. Armia was also enjoying a significant increase in ATOI, though without the point production of Ehlers.

It's undoubtedly great to have these young guns back and ready to roll (even if uncomfortably so). Unfortunately, their gain appears to be Nic Petan's loss:

Bonus thought

As per Daily Faceoff, this truly is the left-side defence of a champion:

Left-Side "Defence"

Stats, facts and automobiles provided by NHL.com, Natural Stat Trick, WAR On Ice, Hockey Analysis, Hockey Reference and The Hockey News. Thanks for reading!