Daily News Both Kings and Jets looking to regain footing in Monday’s matchup


They see me rollin'. They hatin'.
Staff member
Kings general manager Rob Blake set out to build a contender this offseason and for a while it appeared that he had succeeded, but in Winnipeg rather than Los Angeles given that his massive swing for jettisoned Jet Pierre-Luc Dubois whiffed while his former club soared in the standings.

Of late, both the Kings and the team they’ll visit in Manitoba on Monday have heard loud beeping noises as they back their way into the postseason.

The Kings have lost two straight games feebly while seeing their previously dominant penalty kill flake and crumble. They negated an academic infraction late in Calgary on Saturday but allowed three man-advantage markers to the Flames –– the Kings’ first such faltering of the season –– as part of a stretch in which they surrendered eight power-play goals in 20 opportunities.

Not only did they lose their top position on the NHL’s penalty-kill percentage leaderboard, since March 16 they’ve ranked dead last in PK efficiency with a meager 61.9% clip across the two-week span.

Against Calgary, a sloppy and sluggish start in addition to the two power-play tallies they ceded still left the Kings in a position to steal a point or two late, until Kevin Fiala’s ill-advised roughing minor left them shorthanded once more, leading to a dagger from defenseman MacKenzie Weegar.

“Our penalty kill has been outstanding this year, that’s won us games over and over again this year, so we’re not going to lay this one on the penalty kill,” said Kings interim coach Jim Hiller, whose club did not practice on Sunday. “I’m more concerned with the penalties. We took two slashing penalties in Edmonton [Thursday], one of them led to a goal, and then the penalties (Saturday), you don’t give yourself a chance, especially when you’re trying to get your legs under you when you’re not playing well.”

Even during their nightmarish month from Dec. 28 to Jan. 28, the Kings’ penalty kill ranked third in the league, playing a significant factor in their ability to snatch up points for overtime losses during a freefall that saw them drop 14 of 16 games.

On Saturday, the PK was missing Phillip Danault (upper-body) and given the Kings’ moves Sunday to recall center Akil Thomas and place forward Alex Turcotte on long-term injured reserve, Danault would appear doubtful for Monday’s match in Winnipeg.

There, the Jets have found themselves in dire straits as they’ve spiraled downward from a three-way points tie for the Central Division lead to a distant third-place position thanks to their current six-game losing streak. They’ve been out-scored 24-9 during their funk, and lost 3-2 to the decidedly less competitive Ottawa Senators on Saturday.

In Dubois’s return to Winnipeg early in the season, he scored a goal, the Kings rolled 5-1 and the centerpiece in the deal for the Jets, Gabe Vilardi, sustained a knee injury. Vilardi would have his revenge, however, when he teamed with Mark Scheifele and Nicolaj Ehlers to illuminate the scoreboard at Crypto.com Arena in December to set up Monday’s rubber match.

Vilardi, who has battled injuries early and often in his career, missed a month recently due to an enlarged spleen, the cause of which remained a mystery even as he made his back to the ice against Ottawa.

Related Articles​

Vilardi even coined his own term for his chain of maladies, “The Gabriel Vilardi fortune,” he shared with reporters in Winnipeg.

Vilardi headed north accompanied by two other former Kings, Alex Iafallo and Rasmus Kupari. Iafallo had eight of his 24 points on the season during a four-game stretch in early November while Kupari has one point in 27 games as a Jet.

The Jets added another one-time King, Tyler Toffoli, along with his junior teammate, Sean Monahan, as the trade deadline approached. Monahan has compiled 18 points in 26 games with Winnipeg but just three during its ongoing slump. Toffoli had poured in four goals and six points in the three games prior to his production freezing completely over those half a dozen losses.

Continue reading...