Game Preview #57 - A Hollywood Ending...

How many of us thought the Jackets had a legit chance at leaving LA with four points? I know I didn't.

Columbus Blue Jackets at Los Angeles Kings

February 6, 2014 - 10:30 pm EST
Staples Center - Los Angeles, California
Radio - WBNS 97.1 - TV - Fox Sports Ohio
Opponent's Blog: Jewels From The Crown
SBN's Kings vs Blue Jackets Coverage

One team has won 12 of its last 16 games, including its last three in a row. The other has won just five times in its last 21 games (5-14-2), and has lost four straight and nine of 10 (1-8-1).

Here's another way of looking at trends. While I always provide the snapshot at the bottom of where each team ranks in terms of season offense, defense, and special teams, it's important to note that, since these teams last met, all of the Jackets' number except their PP% (which has stayed identical at 19.0%) have improved, whereas all of the the Kings' numbers have gotten demonstrably worse.

Yes, these are two teams trending in opposite directions, in a big way.

That means, frankly, that with the Jackets' win against Anaheim the other night, this road trip suddenly looks a little less daunting.

Look, I'm not going to take anything away from the Kings. They are a good team, with good players and an all-world goaltender. But, for whatever reason, they have been pretty bad for over a month now. Since winning a shoot-out against Colorado on December 21, they have won just five times. Think about that for a moment. 21 games in 44 days, and they've won just five times, just once since January 16th.

I don't have to tell you, we've been through some runs like that, and they aren't pretty. As we also know, they also tend to take on a life of their own and spiral out of control. After that win in December against the Avs, the Kings lost five straight heading into January, and had another five game winless streak in the middle of January (during which they visited Columbus and lost).

Jonathan Quick's last three starts have been forgettable, as he's allowed 10 goals on 50 shots (.800 sv%) including getting yanked from a start against Pittsburgh after allowing three goals on just seven shots. He gets the start again tonight, and so the Jackets will have to work hard to continue that trend. One imagines Quick is going to do all he can to get sharp for the Olympics so as to get a chance to play. The Jackets need to keep him down.

Likewise, the Kings overall have allowed 29 goals over these last 10 games, which is a big departure from their norm. Their PK has struggled of late, having killed just eight of 13 chances in the last four games. Columbus, as we've documented, has been scoring in bunches, and has found some life again on the Power Play.

Conversely, the Kings have scored just 13 goals over that same 10-game span, including a 2-for-30 stretch on the PP currently, so it's not hard to see why they haven't been winning. The Jackets can't let them get going offensively. Jeff Carter, for example, hasn't scored since these teams last met, but we all know how much he likes sticking it to us. We can't let him.

All in all, if you'd told me last week that the Jackets had a pretty good shot to come out of the LA area with four points in tow, I don't think I'd have believed it. But, with the win against Anaheim and the continued struggles of the Kings, it now certainly seems possible.

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
(29-23-4, 62 Points; 3rd division, 7th conference)

Boone Jenner Ryan Johansen Nathan Horton
Nick Foligno Artem Anisimov R.J. Umberger
Matt Calvert Brandon Dubinsky Cam Atkinson
Derek MacKenzie Mark Letestu Corey Tropp
Jack Johnson Fedor Tyutin
Ryan Murray James Wisniewski
Nikita Nikitin David Savard
Sergei Bobrovsky
Curtis McElhinney

Los Angeles Kings
(30-22-6, 64 Points; 3rd Division, 7th Conference)

Tyler Toffoli Anze Kopitar Jeff Carter
Dustin Brown Mike Richards Justin Williams
Dwight King Jarret Stoll Trevor Lewis
Kyle Clifford Colin Fraser Matt Frattin
Willie Mitchell Drew Doughty
Robyn Regehr Slava Voynov
Jake Muzzin Matt Greene
Jonathan Quick
Martin Jones

Season Series

01/21/14 - Los Angeles 3 at Columbus 5
02/06/14 - Columbus at Los Angeles

Head to Head Stats

Los Angeles Columbus
2.26 (29) GPG 2.91 (7)
2.12 (1) GAPG 2.77 (17)
14.0% (28) PP% 19.0% (14)
83.3% (9) PK% 81.2% (16)
Jeff Carter, 20 G leader Ryan Johansen, 23
Anze Kopitar, 29 A leader James Wisniewski, 29
Anze Kopitar, 46 Pts leader Ryan Johansen, 43
Kyle Clifford, 63 PIM leader Brandon Dubinsky, 82
16-10-3 Home/Road 13-12-2
2/3 vs. Chicago, L 5-3 Last Game 2/3 @ Anaheim, W 4-2
1-8-1 Last 10 7-3-0

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