WINNIPEG -– The Winnipeg Jets' fresh legs will meet an opponent in the Los Angeles Kings that is playing its second game in 24 hours when the teams meet Friday night at MTS Centre.
The Kings opened their season Thursday night on the road by grinding out a come-from-behind 3-2 shootout win against the Minnesota Wild. Winnipeg opened its season Tuesday with a third-period rally of its own in taking a 5-4 win against the Edmonton Oilers.
Only four Kings participated in the team's morning skate after a late arrival in Winnipeg from Minnesota. Jets right wing Blake Wheeler watched the Los Angeles-Minnesota game on television, and he expects the Kings to attempt to slow down a quick Jets team, especially with L.A. playing on consecutive nights.
"From our side, we've got to come at them and try to make them skate with us," Wheeler said after the Jets' morning skate.
Winnipeg plays eight of its next nine games at home and needs a strong month to establish itself as a legitimate player in the Western Conference, especially after posting a 13-10-1 home record last season that ranked 21st in the League. Jets coach Claude Noel is interested to see how his team fares against an opponent that plays a very conservative game. In his third season at the helm in Winnipeg, Noel has made a stronger commitment to defensive play a major priority in 2013-14.
"I think it's a good measuring stick," Noel said. "Because we're going to get a team that plays a different style than [in] the first game [against Edmonton]. This is more of a grinding, patient game that forces us to play a patient game as well."
Certainly, the Kings provide the Jets with an in-person template of what will be needed to reshape the Jets into the sort of responsible team that Noel seeks.
"It comes from accountability and leadership of your top players," Kings coach Darryl Sutter explained. "That's pretty much it, right there."
Los Angeles will return Jonathan Quick to the net after his 27-save performance against Minnesota. Winnipeg will counter with Ondrej Pavelec.
Here are the expected lineups for the Kings and Jets on Friday:
Dwight King - Anze Kopitar - Justin Williams
Matt Frattin - Mike Richards - Jeff Carter
Trevor Lewis - Jarret Stoll - Dustin Brown
Kyle Clifford - Colin Fraser - Jordan Nolan
Drew Doughty - Robyn Regehr
Slava Voynov - Willie Mitchell
Jake Muzzin - Matt Greene
Scratched: Daniel Carcillo, Keaton Ellerby, Alec Martinez
NOTES: The Kings, who have a completely healthy roster, are expected to dress the same lineup that faced Minnesota.
Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler
Evander Kane - Mark Scheifele - Devin Setoguchi
Eric Tangradi - Olli Jokinen - Michael Frolik
James Wright - Jim Slater - Chris Thorburn
Tobias Enstrom - Dustin Byfuglien
Zach Bogosian - Jacob Trouba
Mark Stuart - Paul Postma
Scratched: Matt Halischuk, Adam Pardy, Anthony Peluso
Injured: Grant Clitsome (lower body)
NOTES: Winnipeg will be without defenseman Grant Clitsome (lower body), a player they are depending on to help solidify their defensive top-four. Rookie Jacob Trouba, 19, will again pair with Zach Bogosian after a one-goal, one-assist performance Tuesday in his NHL debut. Clitsome is a possibility to return Sunday night against the Anaheim Ducks.