Game 40 Preview: Dethrone the Kings

COLUMBUS, OH - DECEMBER 15: Curtis Sanford #30 of the Columbus Blue Jackets makes the save in net behind Dustin Penner #25 of the Los Angeles Kings during the third period of their game at Nationwide Arena on December 15, 2011 in Columbus, Ohio. The Kings defeated the Blue Jackets 2-1. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)

Columbus Blue Jackets at Los Angeles Kings

January 7, 2012 - 4:00pm EST
Staples Center - Los Angeles, California
Radio - WBNS FM 97.1 - TV - Fox Sports Ohio
Opponents Blog: Jewels From The Crown

After another sluggish offensive performance the other night in San Jose, the Blue Jackets are at it again in LA tonight against the Kings. Thankfully, the Kings' offense might actually be worse than the Jackets' on paper. The difference? Defense and goaltending. The Kings are near the top of the league in goals-against and on the PK, which will make the Jackets' test that much tougher.

Columbus will have to find some offense with a (surprise!) reshuffled lineup. In fairness, this one is in part due to the broken hand suffered by Mark Letestu the other night in San Jose. Ryan Russell draws in for his first action as a Jacket, and Ryan Johansen finds himself demoted back to the fourth line. Sigh.

The Jackets look to ride Curtis Sanford again between the pipes. The Kings are 6-1-3 in their last 10 (15 points) and find themselves back in the playoff picture. Gack.

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
(10-24-5, 25 Points; 5th division, 15th conference)

Vinny Prospal Jeff Carter Rick Nash
R.J. Umberger Antoine Vermette Derick Brassard
Ryan Russell Samuel Pahlsson Derek Dorsett
Ryan Johansen Derek MacKenzie Jared Boll
Fedor Tyutin Nikita Nikitin
Marc Methot John Moore
Grant Clitsome David Savard
Curtis Sanford
Steve Mason

Los Angeles Kings
(20-14-7, 47 Points; 2nd Division, 7th Conference)

Mike Richards Anze Kopitar Dustin Brown
Dustin Penner Jarret Stoll Justin Williams
Brad Richardson Andrei Loktionov Trevor Lewis
Kyle Clifford Colin Fraser Trent Hunter
Rob Scuderi Drew Doughty
Willie Mitchell Alec Martinez
Jack Johnson Matt Greene
Jonathan Quick
Jonathan Bernier

Season Series

12/15/11 - Los Angeles 2 at Columbus 1 - RECAP
01/07/12 - Columbus at Los Angeles
02/01/12 - Columbus at Los Angeles
03/08/12 - Los Angeles at Columbus

By The Numbers

Scoring
CBJ - 2.33 G/G (t26th)
LAK - 2.07 G/G (30th)

Defense
CBJ - 3.23 GA/G (26th)
LAK - 2.15 GA/G (4th)

Power Play
CBJ - 14.7% (22nd)
LAK - 13.8% (27th)

Penalty Kill
CBJ - 74.8% (29th)
LAK - 88.5% (2nd)

Game Notes:

  • Odd Start Time - A 1:00 local time start. For professional athletes, routine is the king of everything. I will be interested to see if Columbus can come out quickly, given that this game will be about six hours earlier than they're used to playing. Who knows? Maybe a change in routine is what the doctor ordered.
  • Special Teams - The Kings are actually worse on offense--including the PP--than in Columbus. This could be a night for the Jackets' PK to finally catch a breath, perhaps. Meanwhile, the Kings' PK is second best in the league. The Jackets would consider it a huge victory to get the edge on Special Teams scoring today.
  • Head to Head - From the Great Rob Mixer: "Tonight marks second of four meetings overall and first of two at STAPLES Center this season between the Blue Jackets and Kings. Columbus is 18-20-3 all-time against Los Angeles, including a 7-12-1 mark at STAPLES Center. The Kings have won three-straight against the Jackets and six of the last seven."

The Jackets need to find some kind of offensive spark. I just don't see it happening today, however.

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