And, here we are. After Saturday's trip to Buffalo, the Jackets now come back to Nationwide where they will play six of their next seven games. They are now winners of six in a row (three of those at home), and seven of eight, and have managed to propel themselves into the playoff race. Whereas last season after 48 games, they were on the outside looking in, this season after 48 games they're in a wild card spot.
The difference? This season has 34 more games to go. Oh, right.
The Kings come in on the second night of a back-to-back, having played (and lost) in Boston last night, and then head west afterward with two against red-hot Anaheim coming up this weekend. With all that in mind, the Kings are presumably a tired team, and having played against Boston last night and with the Ducks looming, there's a chance for let-down (the Jackets, for as well as they've been playing, still ain't the Broons or the Ducks). That said, this Kings team is still very good, and still very tough to score on. The Jackets need to bring the same kind of game they did Friday against Washington, and ride a (hopefully strong) home crowd to send the Kings on their way.
Given the Kings' schedule, it seems *likely* that Martin Jones will get the start in goal. These two teams present interesting challenges to one another, in that the Jackets' strength has been their scoring, whereas the Kings are the best defensive team in the league in terms of goals-against-per. Conversely, the Jackets' gapg number has hovered around 2.8 all season, but the Kings can't really consistently generate goals. Look at the head-to-head below; they complement each other quite nicely, in fact.
On Special Teams, the Kings get a bit of the edge, as their PK is very, very good, and the Jackets' PK has been inconsistent-to-bad for quite a while; they're killing off 83.9% of them in the new year (during their 7-1-0 stretch), but that number is only slightly better than their season average. The rub? Of late, the Jackets' PP has been improving steadily. Since Nathan Horton's first game, the Jackets are converting at a rate of 30.8% (eight goals, 26 PPs), and that doesn't even cover the goals they've scored lately just after a Power Play has expired (Friday against the Caps, Saturday against the Sabes, for example). I can't put my finger on what Horton is bringing, and some credit goes to Jack Johnson and his improvement, but whatever it is... man. A fella could get used to a team converting at 30% on the man advantage, for sure. They've actually climbed up into the top half of the league, when just two weeks ago the PP seemed completely devoid of hope.
The Jackets get Fedor Tyutin back from injury, and otherwise will ice the same lineup they've been riding with during the winning streak.
Also, Jeff Carter can still eat it.
Columbus Blue Jackets
(24-20-4, 52 Points; 4th division, 8th conference)
|Matt Calvert||Brandon Dubinsky||Cam Atkinson|
|Boone Jenner||Artem Anisimov||Nathan Horton|
|Nick Foligno||Ryan Johansen||R.J. Umberger|
|Derek MacKenzie||Mark Letestu||Corey Tropp|
|Jack Johnson||Fedor Tyutin|
|Ryan Murray||James Wisniewski|
|Nikita Nikitin||David Savard|
Los Angeles Kings
(29-15-6, 64 Points; 3rd Division, 6th Conference)
|Dustin Brown||Anze Kopitar||Jeff Carter|
|Matt Frattin||Mike Richards||Justin Williams|
|Dwight King||Jarret Stoll||Trevor Lewis|
|Kyle Clifford||Colin Fraser||Jordan Nolan|
|Jake Muzzin||Drew Doughty|
|Slava Voynov||Robyn Regehr|
|Willie Mitchell||Alec Martinez|
01/21/14 - Los Angeles at Columbus
02/06/14 - Columbus at Los Angeles
Head to Head Stats
Los Angeles Columbus 2.44 (23) GPG 2.79 (11) 1.98 (1) GAPG 2.79 (19) 15.2% (23) PP% 19.0% (13) 84.5% (6) PK% 79.9% (21) Jeff Carter, 19 G leader Ryan Johansen, 18 Anze Kopitar, 27 A leader James Wisniewski, 24 Anze Kopitar, 40 Pts leader Ryan Johansen, 36 Kyle Clifford, 58 PIM leader Brandon Dubinsky, 78 13-9-3 Road/Home 12-9-2 1/20 @ Boston, L 3-2 Last Game 1/18 @ Buffalo, W 4-3 (SO) 4-4-2 Last 10 7-3-0