Division-leading Jets hit road against lowly Kings
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The Winnipeg Jets will try to extend their lead in the Central Division when they open a three-game road trip in Los Angeles against the Kings on Monday night.
The Jets own a one-point lead over the Nashville Predators, who don't play until Tuesday. Winnipeg has 10 games left and the Predators have nine, including their final meeting against the Jets on Saturday in Winnipeg.
The Jets have won two in a row and are coming off an eight-game stretch against teams currently in playoff spots. Winnipeg went 5-3.
"We're playing solid," Jets forward Mark Scheifele told the Winnipeg Sun following a 2-1 win against the visiting Calgary Flames on Saturday. "You just have to have that attitude that it's a playoff game from here on in. You've got to ramp yourself up. You've got to be ready for that grind. We've done that lately."
The postseason hopes of the Kings ended long ago, and interim coach Willie Desjardins has been experimenting with different lineups and lines.
Following a 4-3 loss to the visiting Florida Panthers on Saturday afternoon, he told reporters that he's been impressed with Winnipeg.
"Good team, big, heavy team, lots of talent up front," he said. "They've got lots of depth. I think, if you look at them on paper, they're one of the best in the league. When they're on their game, they're hard to handle."
The Jets have had to adjust to the loss of defensemen Josh Morrissey and Dustin Byfuglien.
Morrissey has been sidelined since Feb. 24 with an upper-body injury and isn't expected back until next month. Byfuglien has been out since the middle of last month with an ankle injury, and no timeline has been set for his return.
"We're never comfortable without those two guys," Jets forward Blake Wheeler told the Winnipeg Sun. "The guys that are playing in their place are great players, and they're doing a heck of a job. It's just that we're talking about two of our best players, two of the best defensemen in the league. It's never easy playing without them. You're never going to replace them. We're doing the best we can."
The Jets and Kings split their first two meetings this season.
The Jets beat Los Angeles 2-1 in Winnipeg the third game of the season, part of a 2-7-1 start that put the Kings in a hole for good this season.
The Kings came back with a 4-1 win in Los Angeles on Dec. 18, which sparked a season-long four-game winning streak.
Winnipeg knows not to take the Kings or any other opponent lightly the rest of the way.
"It's important that you get geared up and start preparing for the playoffs," Jets forward Adam Lowry said. "It's a great opportunity for us to go up against some quality teams and really iron out our game. Over the last little bit we've started to play better, and generally we've played pretty well against teams that are sitting well in the standings. You've got to beat good teams in the playoffs, so it's important that you do that in the regular season, too."
--Field Level Media
Updated March 17, 2019
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Published: 2015-05-28 13:51:00
Updated: 2016-07-13 10:41:59
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