I freely admit the title of this post is a joke that worked even better when Ken Hitchcock was still behind the bench, but you do the best you can with what you have to work with.
The Kings, like the Jackets, got off to a very hot start before falling back, and now both teams have clawed their way back into the discussion - I found it interesting that the guys on NHL on the Fly brought up Columbus as one of the teams "Right there in the hunt" in the Western Conference. That's a respect they weren't seeing as little as three weeks ago.
The big difference between the Jackets and Kings right now is that LA is where Columbus wants to be - one point back of a playoff spot and right on the verge of breaking in thanks to some very hot performances of late.
|Game Time: 7:00 pm EST
|TV: Fox Sports Ohio (HD)
|Radio: 97.1 WFAN-FM
|Kings vs Blue Jackets coverage|
|Opponent's Blog: Jewels From The Crown
It remains to be seen if Steve Mason will get the start tonight, given his battle with bronchitis, but if he does, you have to wonder if he may skate over to Jonathan Quick in the pre-game for a bit of chat about becoming the franchise netminder. Both are young and have ridden a wave of high expectations that they occasionally struggle to meet, and both are preparing for a playoff push where their teams will depend on stellar performances from each of them if they want to return to the post-season.
Meanwhile, the Jackets are riding their top line for all its' worth, with Rick Nash, Derick Brassard, and Jakub Voracek combining for fourteen points this month, and hope to replace Derek Dorsett, out with his second career concussion, with Ethan Moreau, expected to return from IR tonight.
With the Jackets 5 points back of 8th place Calgary, and in position to overtake the Blackhawks and cut the gap tonight, it's a must win (and for that matter, a must win IN REGULATION). Don't expect it to come easy, though - the Kings are 7-1-2 in their last 10 games, and riding a two game winning streak of their own.
Keys To The Game:
- Kopitar - As Anze Kopitar goes, so go the Kings. When he scores, the Kings are 12-3-0. After a long scoring drought, he helped put that Capitals away on Sunday. If the Jackets can keep him off the board tonight, it isn't everything, but it goes a long way.
- Look For The Opening - In their previous meetings this season in LA, which the teams have split, the Jackets have done a great job of taking advantage of turnovers and miscues to create scoring chances, and that's a plan they need to stick with, particularly since they now have the advantage of the last change.
- Up And At Them - LA is one of the most dominant teams in the league when scoring first, with a 23-8-0 record in games where they get the first goal. The Jackets cannot allow LA to build a lead on them. The Kings are past masters of playing keepaway once they get the advantage.
With only two games this week to impact their position in the playoff race, the Jackets need to make a big impact, and they can't let games go to the teams they're chasing. LA is damned good. The Jackets need to be better.
Blue Jackets Information:
|Rick Nash||Derick Brassard||Jakub Voracek|
|R.J. Umberger||Antoine Vermette||Kristian Huselius|
|Chris Clark||Samuel Pahlsson||Ethan Moreau|
|Matt Calvert||Derek MacKenzie||Jared Boll|
|Jan Hejda||Anton Stralman|
|Fedor Tyutin||Marc Methot|
|Grant Clitsome||Kris Russell|
|Michal Handzus||Anze Kopitar||Wayne Simmonds|
|Kyle Clifford||Andrei Loktionov||Dustin Brown|
|Ryan Smyth||Jarret Stoll||Justin Williams|
|Alexei Ponikarovsky||Trevor Lewis||
|Drew Doughty||Jack Johnson|
|Matt Greene||Willie Mitchell|
Tidbit: The first popular use of the term "regicide" came in 1587 when Pope Sixtus V issued a papal bull of excommunication against Queen Elizabeth 1, referring to her execution of Mary, Queen of Scots as a crowned regicide. Since then, the term has come to refer to any occasion where a crowned ruler is killed outside of battle.