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Preview: Kings jet north to take on Winnipeg

LA seeks season-high third consecutive regulation win.

2020 Navy Federal Credit Union NHL Stadium Series - Los Angeles Kings v Colorado Avalanche Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

How to Watch

Game Time: 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time

TV: Fox Sports West (Kings Broadcast)

Radio: iHeart Radio / LA Kings Audio Network

The Opposition: Arctic Ice Hockey

What to Watch:

  • The Kings look to make it three regulation wins in a row as they travel to Winnipeg to take on the Jets. Back in November the club won three in a row, stringing together consecutive home victories against Minnesota, Detroit, and Vegas. However, the Red Wings game required overtime before the Kings pulled it out 3-2.
  • The Kings are 18-8-8 all-time against the current Jets franchise, which began playing in 1999 as the Atlanta Thrashers before moving to Manitoba in 2011. In taking home nearly 65% of available points, the Kings have been more successful against the Thrashers / Jets franchise than they have against any other team all-time.
  • The Kings broke a five game losing streak Wednesday with a 5-3 win over the Flames at Staples Center. In an outdoor game played Saturday at the US Air Force Academy, the club broke their four-game road losing streak by defeating the Avalanche 3-1 before a national television audience and 43,574 chilly, but entertained fans.
  • Saturday night’s victory was powered by stellar individual performances by Tyler Toffoli and Jonathan Quick. Toffoli of course was traded to the Canucks yesterday in exchange for Tim Schaller, prospect Tyler Madden (currently playing at Northeastern, Kings play by play man Alex Faust’s alma mater) and a second-round pick in this year’s draft. The Kings will also receive a fourth-round pick in the 2022 draft if Toffoli, an unrestricted free agent after the season, signs with Vancouver. Toffoli made his last game in a Kings sweater memorable, scoring all three Kings goals while becoming the first player in NHL history to score a hat trick in an outdoor game.
  • At the other end of the ice, Jonathan Quick was sharp from the opening face-off, stopping 32 of 33 shots while bringing his goals against-average down to 2.99, the first time all season it’s been below three goals per game. Quick’s outstanding performance also raised his season save percentage to .897, inching him closer to .900, a mark he has reached every year since joining the Kings full-time with the exception of last season. Tellingly, in Quick’s 12 victories he has a goals against-average of 1.66 and a save percentage of .944. In his 22 regulation losses he has a 3.68 goals against average and a .874 save percentage.
  • The Kings come into tonight's game in last place in the Western Conference with 47 points and a record of 21-33-5. The only team in the NHL with fewer points is the Red Wings. (Can anybody suggest a name for the opposite of the President’s Trophy i.e. coming in last place overall in the NHL?) The Jets have 65 points and a record of 30-25-5, which places them tied with Nashville for fourth place in the Central Division, one point behind Arizona and Calgary in the race for the two Western Conference wild-cards. The stats show the Jets to be solidly average. They rank 17th out of 31 NHL teams in goals for, 15th in goals against, and 16th in strength of schedule. This has caused Winnipeg fans to question the commitment of Jets management to bringing the Stanley Cup to their beloved city alongside the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine rivers.
  • Winnipeg is coming off a 3-2 home win over division-rival Chicago, snapping a two-game losing skid. Tonight marks the completion of a six-game home stand for the Jets, who will take to the road for four games after tonight. Goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, whom our sister blog Arctic Ice Hockey calls the team’s MVP, posted 31 saves in the victory. 25-year old Jets defenseman Josh Morrisey (or “defencemen” for Jets fans visiting our site) led the team in ice time at 24:38. Coach Paul Maurice, who last week signed a three-year extension with the club told that he felt Morrisey “played his best game of the year.” 23-year old left-wing Kyle Connor leads the Jets in scoring. A 2015 first-rounder out of the University of Michigan, Connor has played in all 60 Winnipeg games this year putting up 29 goals and 31 assists for 60 points. Center (or “centre” again for Winnipeg fans) Mark Scheifele is right behind Connor with 23 goals and 36 assists for 59 points.
  • If you hadn’t noticed the rebuilding effort officially began with last week’s Campbell / Clifford trade and now the Toffoli trade, and boy do the Kings need rebuilding. They rank 30th in overall points, 30th in total goals scored, 30th in goals scored per game, 29th in wins, and are tied for 29th in goal differential per game. However, let’s remember there is a big difference between rebuilding and “tanking”. I have faith in Luc and Rob (the jury’s still out on Todd) but the team is definitely committed to stockpiling pics and rebuilding through the draft. Let’s remember Doughty, Brown, Kopitar and Quick, the heart and soul of not only this team but of two Cup championships, are all home grown products drafted by the team.
Anaheim Ducks v Los Angeles Kings Photo by Juan Ocampo/NHLI via Getty Images

I may be short-sighted but I want to see this club continue buying into Todd McLellan’s system and win as many games as possible down the stretch. I know we’re not the 2018-19 Blues, but a little positive momentum would be nice to carry over into next season. Feel free to reach out in the comments below or @MarkDevoreNHL. And as always GO KINGS GO!