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Game Preview #52 – Mr. 1000

Los Angeles Kings at Columbus Blue Jackets

February 9th, 2015 – 7:00 PM EST
Nationwide Arena – Columbus, Ohio
Radio – WBNS 97.1 – TV – Fox Sports Ohio
Opponent’s Blog: Jewels From The Crown

If this game had more impact on a playoff push, it would be easy to overlook the obvious:

Tonight is Scott Hartnell’s 1000th NHL game.

Only 294 players in league history have ever done that. Only 26 of them currently play in the league. Hartnell’s feat is a testament to his work ethic, as the physical style he plays might lend itself to repeated bouts with injury. For him, it just hasn’t happened that way, as he’s never missed more than 23 games in a season. In fact, since moving to Philly for the 2007-2008 campaign, he’s missed just 28 games. Out of a possible 591 games. He’s played in 95.3% of the games over that time. It’s amazing.

And, it’s not like he’s just out there going through the motions. One of the other reasons a player is able to get to a milestone like this is that he is producing over that long period of time. Hartnell has 262 goals and 309 assists in his 999 games, or a .57 points-per-game slate. He’s been held under 20 goals just one time (in a full 82-game season) since 2005-2006. That’s consistency.

And, he’s done it any and everywhere. He’s played all over the lineup wherever he’s been, playing with many different linemates. And he just keeps getting it done. Assuming he plays the rest of the season, he’ll essentially match his last season’s total, despite coming over to a new team that has underperformed across the board. He’s on pace to score 20 goals–again–and notch 35 assists in 77 games. He had 20/32/52 last season in 76 games. That, too, is consistency.

So, congrats Scotty! While you have only been a Jackets for 46 of those 999 games, I think it’s quite fair to say you’ve endeared yourself here quite well in this one season, and we’re honored to have you join the ranks of Sergei Fedorov and Vinny Prospal as guys to find themselves suiting up for the 1000th time as a Blue Jacket.

Lost in all of that is that the Jackets have won two in a row in fairly convincing fashion–on the scoreboard, at least–combining to win two games 11-2. It’s come from everywhere in the lineup, with Nick Foligno and Cam Atkinson re-discovering the back of the net as well as guys like Corey Tropp and Mark Letestu proving the elusive “secondary scoring” that has been so lacking this season. Not to mention the performance of Curtis McElhinney, who turned in probably his best overall performance as a Blue Jacket on Saturday in Ottawa.

The Kings don’t yet look like they’ve flipped the switch that we all know they have, so the Jackets are catching them at a good time: since reaching their high water mark of 18-11-7 in late December, they’ve gone just 4-7-5 in their last 16, which has them on the outside looking in at the moment. That said, as this game marks the final game in a five-game road trip, it’s important to note that their previous game was a solid win in Tampa Bay, though it was just their fourth win in 2015 (which includes winning on New Year’s Day). In addition, even with that win in Tampa, the Kings have been abysmal on the road all season, with just six wins in 24 contests away from Staples.

They’re a good team that may either just be going through the motions or genuinely struggling. The Jackets beat St. Louis at the top of their game the other night, so anything is possible. The guys just have to want to do it again.

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
(23-25-3, 49 Points; 7th division, 13th conference)

Scott Hartnell Ryan Johansen Cam Atkinson
Nick Foligno Brandon Dubinsky Corey Tropp
Alexander Wennberg Artem Anisimov Jack Skille
Matt Calvert Mark Letestu Jared Boll

Fedor Tyutin Jack Johnson
Kevin Connauton David Savard
Jordan Leopold Cody Goloubef

Curtis McElhinney
Anton Forsberg

Los Angeles Kings
(22-18-12, 56 Points; 5th Division, 10th Conference)

Marian Gaborik Anze Kopitar Dustin Brown
Dwight King Jeff Carter Tyler Toffoli
Trevor Lewis Jarret Stoll Justin Williams
Kyle Clifford Nick Shore Jordan Nolan

Jake Muzzin Drew Doughty
Robyn Regehr Jamie McBain
Brayden McNabb Matt Greene

Jonathan Quick
Martin Jones

Season Series

LAK – 1-0-0
CBJ – 0-1-0

10/26/14 – Columbus 2 at Los Angeles 5
02/09/15 – Los Angeles at Columbus

Head to Head Stats

Los Angeles Columbus
2.67 (19) GPG 2.51 (23)
2.58 (15) GAPG 3.06 (26)
19.5% (12) PP% 22.9% (5)
78.0% (26) PK% 80.1% (20)
Marian Gaborik, 16 G leader Nick Foligno, 21
Anze Kopitar, 29 A leader Ryan Johansen, 29
Anze Kopitar, 40 Pts leader Nick Foligno / Ryan Johansen, 49
Kyle Clifford, 52 PIM leader Scott Hartnell, 69
6-12-6 Road/Home 11-13-2
3-5-2 Last 10 5-5-0
2/7 @ Tampa Bay, W 4-2 Last Game 2/7 @ Ottawa, W 4-1