|Winnipeg Jets||Head-to-Head||Los Angeles Kings|
|Rick Bowness||Head Coach||Todd McLellan|
|3-3-0 (4th in Central Division)||Standing||4-4-0 (3rd in Central Division)|
|Neal Poink (5)||Points||Gabriel Vilardi (9)|
|Mark Scheifele (4)||Goals||Gabriel Vilardi (5)|
|Josh Morrissey (5)||Assists||Azne Kopitar (6)|
|Sam Gagner (2)||+/-||Alex Iafallo (2)|
|Kyle Connor (3.33)||Shots (Per Game)||Gabriel Vilardi (2.38)|
The Winnipeg Jets will cross the border and head to sunny Southern California to battle the Los Angeles Kings.
The Kings were better than the Jets last season but had mixed results against them. They only beat them once in three games and had one overtime loss.
The Kings are coming off a First Round exit against the Edmonton Oilers, and the Jets missed the Playoffs by less than ten points.
The Jets have struggled to score through their first six games but have played smothering defense. Winnipeg is only averaging 2.67 goals per game but also only giving up 2.83 goals per game.
Even though the Jets’ offense is struggling, a few players have stood out in these first few weeks. Those players go by the names of Josh Morrissey, Neal Poink, and Cole Perfetti.
Josh Morrissey is a smaller defenseman but a skilled passer. The Calgary native does not shoot much and is yet to score a goal, but he leads his team with five assists. Neal Poink is also a smaller defenseman, but he has some goal-scoring ability.
Poink has three goals and an additional two assists. Finally, we have Cole Perfetti.
Perfetti, like Morrissey and Poink, is a smaller player and only comes in at 5’11” and 177 lbs. However, the 2020 first round NHL Draft pick has put together a good showing so far and has two goals, three assists, and a +/- of two.
Much of Winnipeg’s early success is due to goaltender Connor Helleybuck.
Helleybuck has started five games this season and has a save percentage .929. It looks like he will be starting the majority of the Jets games this season. Assuming Helleybuck stays healthy, the Jets have a solid goaltending situation.
The Kings have the opposite problem of the Jets. They are scoring a lot but giving up far too many goals. Los Angeles is averaging well over three goals a game but is giving up over four.
The Kings have three players performing better than the rest this season. Those players are veteran Anze Kopitar and youngsters Adrian Kempe and Gabriel Villardi. This trio of centers has done much of Los Angeles’ heavy lifting.
Kopitar has one goal and six assists but also has a +/- of -5. If he improves his +/-, he will be a complete player. Adrian Kempe has had no problem finding the back of the net this season and has five goals. Now we come to Gabriel Villardi.
Villardi has been the most impressive player on this team and has five goals and four assists through eight games.
I have a feeling I will be saying this all season long. The Kings have the worst goaltending duo in the entire league. Jonathan Quick has started most games but has a .893 save percentage. Cal Petersen is less reliable than Quick and has a .842 save percentage.
The Kings are playing at home and have a stronger offense, so I expect them to win.
The Jets are just barely the underdogs but can win if they take a lot of shots and avoid drawing penalties.
Even though Winnipeg is not scoring much, they average over 30 shots a game.
They have an opportunity to get some easy goals today against one of the Kings' weaker netminders. The formula is pretty simple. They can win if they shoot as much as possible and let it fly.
The Jets are facing a Kings team that has been taking advantage of the power play.
The Kings have six power-play goals and are winning games by scoring with a man advantage. Winnipeg has to avoid drawing penalties, and they might have a chance.
The Kings can win this game if they give the puck to Gabriel Villardi and have strong goaltending.
Gabriel Villardi has been sensational through these first couple of weeks. He knows how to score and set up his teammates. All the Kings need to do is give him the puck.
The Kings' goaltending is horrendous. If the netminders can step up this game and perform at an average level or higher, they can stifle the Winnipeg offense.
I will not go over Helleybuck’s numbers again, but I will say this. Helleybuck may see a lot of shots in this game and cannot let in more than two goals. Helleybuck will likely be the reason the Jets win or lose.
Anze Kopitar’s skill level is still very high, but his +/- of -5 is very concerning.
Kopitar has to figure out how to be productive on the ice in every way. If he does that, the Kings will be in a much better spot and have a better chance of winning the game.
|What||Winnipeg Jets vs Los Angeles Kings|
|Where||Crypto.com Arena, Los Angeles, California|
|When||Thursday, October 27, 10:30PMEST|
|How to Watch||NHLPP, ESPN+|
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Max Heering graduated from the University of Kansas Sport Management program in May 2020. Max follows and writes about the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, MLS, college football, and college basketball. In his free time, you can catch Max draining threes on the basketball court. Email: [email protected]More info on Max Heering
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