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Gaborik era for Kings begins against Jets

by Patrick Williams

WINNIPEG -- The Marian Gaborik era starts Thursday for the Los Angeles Kings when they begin a three-game road trip against the Winnipeg Jets.

The Kings, who have won five games in a row, acquired Gaborik on Wednesday in a trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets for forward Matt Frattin, a second- or third-round pick in the 2014 or 2015 NHL Draft, and a conditional pick in either 2014 or 2015.

Gaborik, who had six goals and eight assists in 22 games with Columbus this season, arrived in Winnipeg and joined his new teammates for their morning skate at MTS Centre.

"I had a feeling," Gaborik said of the rumors that surrounded him before the trade. "But you never know. … I'm a King right now, and I'm very happy."

The Kings skated Gaborik on the left side of a line with center Anze Kopitar and right wing Justin Williams, but coach Darryl Sutter will let his transition play out.

"Obviously he's a really good player, but where he fits in, we'll see," Sutter said. "You've kind of got to just move it around and see how it works.

"We're a pretty good skill-set group. Hopefully he can play a whole 200-foot game and fit into the way we play, which he will. He's used to playing around good players, so he will again."

For the Jets, an 11-3-2 record since coach Paul Maurice replaced Claude Noel on Jan. 12 has pushed them to within one point of the Dallas Stars for the final wild-card Stanley Cup Playoff spot in the Western Conference.

However, the Jets will be forced to make their postseason push without center Mark Scheifele, who has 13 goals and 34 points in 63 games in his first full NHL season. Scheifele sprained the MCL in his right knee after a hit from New York Islanders defenseman Calvin de Haan on Tuesday and is expected to miss the rest of the regular season.

Scheifele's absence has forced Maurice to shuffle his forward lines. Andrew Ladd, Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler, linemates for much of the season, will reunite. Maurice held Little out of the morning skate to rest him. Olli Jokinen will replace Scheifele on the second line and skate between Evander Kane and Dustin Byfuglien.

Michael Frolik, who had been on the right side of the Jets' top line, will now center their third line with Devin Setoguchi and Matt Halischuk.

"He has got some experience at center," Maurice said of Frolik. "He has a skill level that fits in terms of what we are trying to do in our own end, in how we move the puck and how we break the puck out. We want to make sure that we have somebody in there that can handle it."

Frolik saw limited time as a center with the Chicago Blackhawks and Florida Panthers before his arrival in Winnipeg.

"You have more responsibility in the defensive zone," Frolik said of the transition. "On the wing, you try to go as fast as you can. In the middle, you have to be patient a bit and not run around."

With Scheifele and Chris Thorburn (upper body) out, the Jets also added center John Albert as an emergency recall from the St. John's IceCaps of the American Hockey League on Thursday. Eric Tangradi will replace Thorburn on the fourth line.

The Kings will start Jonathan Quick in goal. Ondrej Pavelec will start his fourth straight game for the Jets.

Here are the probable lineups for the Kings and Jets:


Marian Gaborik - Anze Kopitar - Justin Williams

Dustin Brown - Mike Richards - Jeff Carter

Dwight King - Jarret Stoll - Tyler Toffoli

Kyle Clifford - Trevor Lewis - Jordan Nolan

Jake Muzzin - Drew Doughty

Robyn Regehr - Slava Voynov

Willie Mitchell - Alec Martinez

Jonathan Quick

Martin Jones

Scratched: Matt Greene, Tanner Pearson

Injured: None


Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler

Evander Kane - Olli Jokinen - Dustin Byfuglien

Devin Setoguchi - Michael Frolik - Matt Halischuk

Eric Tangradi - Jim Slater - Anthony Peluso

Zach Bogosian - Tobias Enstrom

Mark Stuart - Jacob Trouba

Adam Pardy - Keaton Ellerby

Ondrej Pavelec

Al Montoya

Scratched: John Albert , Paul Postma, Zach Redmond

Injured: Grant Clitsome (back), Mark Scheifele (knee), Chris Thorburn (upper body), James Wright (ankle)

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