WINNIPEG -- October 27, 2015 will be a milestone night for Winnipeg Jets captain Andrew Ladd.
When he laces up his skates to battle the Los Angeles Kings tonight, the 29-year-old will be playing in his 700th career NHL game.
“I’m getting old I guess. It’s flying by pretty quick,” said Ladd. “It’s something that when you come into the league, older guys say to you ‘enjoy it while you’re here because it goes by really fast.’ And it seems like just yesterday I was first starting out in Carolina. You just want to enjoy it while you have this opportunity.”
In his career, Ladd has amassed 187 goals and 426 points. But according to head coach Paul Maurice, Ladd’s durability may be even more impressive than his point totals. Ladd has only missed five regular season games since the Jets relocated to Winnipeg in 2011.
“We had such a good look at it last year with the surgery he had at the end, he went three months without anybody hearing a word. He just didn’t practice,” said Maurice. “He stopped practicing in January and he played every game for us. That’s probably a better way to clean out a medical room than anything else.
“When you have a guy like that, that plays with that, there’s nobody laying on the massage table for a bruise then. He’s had that impact in our room.”
One of the players who has felt that impact is veteran Chris Thorburn. He has been team mates with Ladd since 2010-2011.
“He’s been around a while, won a couple (Stanley) Cups, it’s great for him and his family,” said Thorburn. “To be under him, he’s taught us a lot of things about how to play the game, how to act like a pro, he deserves all the credit he gets.”
All the credit Ladd would want on an evening like this one is likely two points in the standings for his team. The Jets and Kings played three times last season, with the Jets winning two of them. Ladd scored twice in the final meeting, a 5-2 win on March 1.
“They play a really strong structured game, and they have one of the best goaltenders in the league,” said Ladd. “In here we have a way that we need to play, we can’t worry too much about the teams coming in. Obviously you pre-scout them and look at what they’re doing, but ultimately it’s up to everyone in here to execute.”
Los Angeles comes into MTS Centre riding a five-game win streak. That stretch has powered them to a 5-3-0 record, good enough for second place in the Pacific Division.
“Their game is unique and that’s in part why they’ve been so successful. What you’ve seen in the last games building is they look so much closer to the LA Kings that we have in our head as their identity game,” said Maurice. “Their game now, they’re strong, they’re finishing their checks, they’re moving quickly, they’ve got lots of confidence in the defensive parts of their game, and they’re patient again.”
Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick did not take the team’s optional morning skate. Should he get the start, he comes in just as hot as his team. He stopped 66 of 68 shots in his two wins last week.
Puck drop tonight at MTS Centre is 7 pm CT. Thorburn says he and the Jets expect tonight’s match up to be a “grind.”
“We know what kind of team they are and what kind of problems they give teams,” said Thorburn. “They come in riding a hot streak, so it’s a game where we get to go out against a good opponent and hopefully put out a good performance and come out with two points.”
-- Mitchell Clinton, WinnipegJets.com