JETBLAST: WINNIPEG @ LOS ANGELES

JETBLAST

Winnipeg Jets (20-14-7) at Los Angeles Kings (19-13-9)  9:00 p.m., Staples Center,
TV: Sportsnet Radio: TSN 1290
Two struggling teams sitting in the Wild card positions will take the ice Saturday evening when the Winnipeg Jets visit the Los Angeles Kings. Walking around downtown LA it has been infested with Jets fans who decided to make the weekend trip to California, so expect a strong contingent of Jets fans tonight. Though both teams still sit in a playoff position, clinging is a more apt adjective for what they are doing. Both have just a single win in their last 5 and are watching the teams behind them creep closer and closer. With all the teams in this race facing off tonight it is hugely important match up. Jets and Kings go at it in the City of Angels, Lets Go!

Kings

Disappointing is the word thrown around most often for the defending Stanley Cup Champions. Nothing is going right for the Kings this year who are just barely holding onto a playoff spot. Looking at a stat line from this team, it does not all fit, the stats are decent yet the W’s are not coming. The Jets may be a remedy for LA however as in their only meeting this season, during the opening week of play, the Kings dominated the Jets on their way to a 4-1 win. It was a strong performance for the Kings before things started falling apart. One of the most interesting story lines heading in is that of Mike Richards. Richards has struggled for the Kings this year culminating in just 9 minutes of ice time during the Kings 4-3 loss to New York Thursday night. It was the Kenora natives lowest total of the season and it may get worse. Richards did not take part in line rushes for the Kings during practice Friday and may be a healthy scratch against the Jets. The Kings look to get back on track Saturday night in downtown Los Angeles.

Jets

Yikes, not much else to say about the Jets performance in Arizona. For one of the first times this season the Jets have strung some just terrible games together, and it has cost them. They have slipped to 8th in the West and have seen their lead over the teams below the playoff line all but disappear. Thursdays 4-1 loss to the Coyotes took the cake for the Jets when it comes to negatives. The Jets did near nothing right. They took bad penalties and gave up goals on the disadvantages. Their powerplay was terrible hardly registering a chance, including an extended 5-3 opportunity. The Jets were unable to even approach the Coyotes net for much of the game, settling for shots from the outside with nearly no traffic. The Jets really need to raise their level of play here in California or they will head back home with two more embarrassing losses as these two teams have a lot of skill that could kill the Jets.

Keys to the Game

Special Teams: The Jets were killed by special teams in Arizona, giving up goals, and failing to come anywhere close to getting their own. The Jets need  to be far better on both sides of the puck if they want to be in this game with Los Angeles. The area they may be able to exploit is the Kings Penalty kill which is operating below 80%. If they can get some goals with the man advantage they will be in a good position to get the win.

Get to the Middle: The Jets failed to get anywhere near the Coyotes net for most of Thurdays game. Instead they played the entire game on the outside, shooting from the boards or the blue line and hardly even getting traffic. The Jets hardly even got any chances and could not have made the game easier for Mike smith. If they do that again with Jonathan Quick in the net they will not be able to score, and they will be looking another loss straight in the face.

Evander Kane: The most polarizing player on this team has been out since taking a Jay Harrison shot to the foot and the Jets have struggled without him. Coincidence? Many will say yes but it is hard to argue with the fact that Kane changes the game. Despite shortcomings he provides a huge help on the forecheck and he gets pucks to the net. It appears Kane may be set to make his return and if he does he will be key in this match up and could make the difference between a Jets win or loss.

Starting Goalies

Michael Hutchinson (10-4-2) GAA: 1.88 SV% .936
Jonathan Quick (16-10-7) GAA: 2.40 SV% .915

Injuries

Enstrom, WPG, (LBI) out
Trouba, WPG, (Undisclosed) out
Stuart, WPG, (LBI) out
Kane, WPG, (LBI) day-to-day
Clitsome, WPG, (Undisclosed) out

Regehr, LA, (UBI) out

Last 10 (W-L-OTL)

Jets: 5-4-1
Kings: 4-3-3

Prediction

Jets get a win in the first of back to backs in California. See you there Jets fans
Jets 3 Kings 2

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Diehard Winnipeg sports fan. Agree or disagree with something I wrote? Find me on twitter @seantheoilcan and let me know Go Jets Go!