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Game Preview 67: The Return of the King

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Yeah, keep smilin'. I'm sure no one here will remember anything.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Yeah, keep smilin'. I'm sure no one here will remember anything. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
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Los Angeles Kings at Columbus Blue Jackets

March 8, 2012 - 7:00pm EST
Nationwide Arena - Columbus, Ohio
Radio - WBNS FM 97.1 - TV - Fox Sports Ohio
Opponents Blog: Jewels From The Crown
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There's something about this game that's kinda big... hmm... what was it? Oh yeah.

Welcome back, Jeff Carter. We hardly knew ye.

If Darryl Sutter has a sense of humor, he will start Carter just so the fans can get it out of their system early. Carter has two goals, no assists, and is +1 in his five games with LA. On the other side of the coin, Jack Johnson gets a chance to lay some wood on his former club, coming off his best game as a Jacket (goal, assist, +2) and has three points--and is +4--in his last two games.

The other guy of note? Steve Mason. Mason has won four of his last five starts, and allowed just seven goals in the four wins, including a shutout. He has a .952 save percentage in those wins, as well. Other roster news is that Nikita Nikitin is slated to go tonight, despite missing the third period on Tuesday after blocking a slapshot off his ankle.

The Jackets are riding their first three-game winning streak in over a year, and clinched a season-series win over Phoenix on Tuesday--also a first. They are just one win shy of tying their franchise-low mark, so there's another milestone within reach. In fact, as bad as the overall record for Columbus is, they have hardly been the flaming dumpster fire over the past several weeks. Since these clubs last met on February 1 (you know, the night the clock had that slight glitch or something), the Jackets are actually 8-6-1; certainly not the worst record over that span.

[update] As if there haven't been enough injuries on this team this season, it is being reported that the Jackets will be without Fedor Tyutin tonight, and for possibly the rest of the season, due to a broken hand suffered in the third period on Tuesday. In addition, Derek MacKenzie is out tonight with a concussion. We've adjusted the lines accordingly below.

The Kings, however, have won three in a row and four out of five themselves, including a big road win in Nashville on Tuesday. Can the Jackets play spoilers yet again, and give their fans a chance for catharsis with Jeff Carter? Tune in to find out!

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
(21-38-7, 49 Points; 5th division, 15th conference)

R.J. Umberger Derick Brassard Rick Nash
Vinny Prospal Mark Letestu Cam Atkinson
Colton Gillies Darryl Boyce Derek Dorsett
Ryan Russell Ryan Johansen Maksim Mayorov
Aaron Johnson Nikita Nikitin
Jack Johnson James Wisniewski
John Moore Brett Lebda
Steve Mason
Curtis Sanford

Los Angeles Kings
(31-23-12, 74 Points; 4th Division, 9th Conference)

Dustin Brown Anze Kopitar Justin Williams
Dwight King Mike Richards Jeff Carter
Dustin Penner Jarret Stoll Trevor Lewis
Kyle Clifford Colin Fraser Jordan Nolan
Rob Scuderi Drew Doughty
Willie Mitchell Slava Voynov
Alec Martinez Matt Greene
Jonathan Bernier
Jonathan Quick

Season Series

12/15/11 - Los Angeles 2 at Columbus 1 - RECAP
01/07/12 - Columbus 1 at Los Angeles 0 - RECAP
02/01/12 - Columbus 2 at Los Angeles 3 - RECAP
03/08/12 - Los Angeles at Columbus

Head to Head

Los Angeles Columbus
2.17 (29) GPG 2.32 (27)
2.06 (3) GAPG 3.20 (29)
16.2% (22) PP% 16.5% (17)
87.6% (4) PK% 76.5% (30)
Anze Kopitar, 19 G leader Rick Nash, 24
Anze Kopitar, 37 A leader Vinny Prospal, 31
Anze Kopitar, 56 Pts leader Rick Nash, 47
Kyle Clifford, 101 PIM leader Derek Dorsett, 190
14-10-8 Road/Home 12-18-3
3/6 @ Nashville, W 5-4 Last Game 3/6 vs. Phoenix, W 3-2
5-4-1 Last 10 5-4-1
    Four in a row. It's possible. It's right there at your door. As Homer J. Simpson once said: "The call is from heroism. Will you accept the charges??"