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Preview: Winnipeg Jets at Los Angeles Kings

Go West! Life is peaceful there! Go West! In the open air! Go West! Where the skies are blue! Go West! This is what we’re gonna do!

NHL: Winnipeg Jets at Los Angeles Kings Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Where to watch/listen

Broadcast Schedule
Broadcast Schedule
Time: 7:00 P.M. CDT
Radio: TSN1290, KFAN 100.3

The Winnipeg Jets wrap up the pre-Christmas break section of the schedule on a three game road trip this week, with things getting underway tonight against the Los Angeles Kings.

These two teams met in the Jets’ home opener this year, with the Jets prevailing 2-1. At that time, I thought that Los Angeles had a good shot at making the playoffs, with players like Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty and the NHL return of Ilya Kovalchuk.

Oops, not so much.

The Kings have clunked along to a league worst record of 11-20-3. A big part of this is a complete lack of attack: the Kings are last in goals for per game at 2.18 (Los Angeles has scored two or fewer goals 22 times this season). Their penalty kill has also been atrocious, stopping just 74% of opponents’ chances. Anze Kopitar leads the team in scoring with 21 points, after 34 games.

The Kings have been royally bad.

The Jets, however, are humming along. Sporting the best record in the West, the team has five wins in a row, and nine in their last 10, with the sole outlier being a performance in which they got goalied against Jake Allen and the St. Louis Blues.

Mark Scheifele is playing lights out, and was named the NHL’s Second Star of the Week for his 11 points in four games, and has 14 in his last five.

The Jets have also seen other players step up their game in the past five games, with Dustin Byfuglien (nine points), Blake Wheeler (eight points), Patrik Laine and Tylers Myers (six points each) standing out.

These teams will meet again once more this season, once again in California on March 18th.

Tale of the Tape

Winnipeg Jets Stats San Jose Sharks
Winnipeg Jets Stats San Jose Sharks
1-0-0 Series 0-1-0
14-9-1 Record 13-11-1
29 Points 27
3rd Central Division 4th Pacific
5th West Conference 8th West
4-1-0 Last 5 4-1-0
68 Goals For 73
73 Goals Against 83
Regular Season
Nikolaj Ehlers (11) Goals Evander Kane (12)
Patrik Laine, Mark Scheifele (14) Assists Logan Couture (20)
Scheifele (22) Points Couture (25)
Connor Hellebuyck (11) Wins Martin Jones (10)
Hellebuyck (2.42) Goals Against Average Jones (3.18)
Hellebuyck (.928) Save Percentage Aaron Dell (.897)
15.5 (24th) Power Play % 19.5 (14th)
72.2 (29th) Penalty Kill % 91.4 (1st)

Enemy Territory

Los Angeles Kings Coverage: Jewels From The Crown

Last Jets Game:

Winnipeg Jets 5-4 (OT) Tampa Bay Lightning

The Best in the West beat the Best in the East in an absolutely glorious game. Nikolaj Ehlers scored a pair and Mark Scheifele scored the overtime winner.

Last Kings Game:

Los Angeles Kings 3-4 (OT) Pittsburgh Penguins

The Kings’ last game also went to overtime, but things did not go as well for them. After the Kings came back from a 3-1 deficit to force the extra frame, Phil Kessel scored the OT winner on the power play.

Players to watch:

Winnipeg Jets

NHL: Winnipeg Jets at Los Angeles Kings Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Dustin Byfuglien is quietly having a great season. He has 25 points in 22 games, despite only scoring three times with a career low 3.8% shooting accuracy. He has 14 assists with the extra man, and you can find him patrolling the blue line when the Jets have the extra man. Despite being on the Jets’ second pairing, his 24:31 of average ice time leads all Winnipeg skaters. Byfuglien will turn 34 before season’s end, but he doesn’t seem to be slowing down.

Los Angeles Kings

NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at Los Angeles Kings Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Speaking of guys who will turn 34 before the end of the year, it’s hard to believe that just two years ago Jeff Carter scored 32 goals. Carter missed a ton of time last year after suffering a cut tendon in his ankle in October 2017. He finished the year with 22 points in 27 games, but this year he’s disappeared offensively. His six goals on 92 shots is not helping things for a Kings team that struggles to score. Can he turn it around, or is this all that’s left of a once prominent scorer?