This is the first of three meetings between Los Angeles and Columbus this season. After tonight, the two teams will meet at Staples Center on Friday, February 15 and on Thursday, April 18.
Lots more after the jump…
Last year, the Kings finished 2-2-0 against the Blue Jackets, going 1-1-0 at home and 1-1-0 on the road. The highest scoring game between the two teams was a 3-2 Los Angeles win on February 1, the infamous clock-gate game in which Drew Doughty scored the game-winner immediately before the buzzer. The Kings averaged 1.5 goals per game against Columbus last season and were actually outscored 7-6 in the season series.
Jonathan Quick started three of four games against the Blue Jackets last season, going 2-1 with a 1.35 goals against average and a .938 save percentage. Overall, he has a lifetime record of 8-5-0 against Columbus with a 2.08 GAA and a .913 Sv%.
Steve Mason started one game against Los Angeles last season and left after 31 minutes after his hand was cut by defenseman John Moore’s skate blade, requiring 15 stitches. He stopped 16 of 17 shots and earned the win in a 3-1 Blue Jackets victory on March 8. Lifetime, the 6’4, 211 pound goaltender is 5-6-0 with a 3.29 GAA and .881 Sv% against L.A.
Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown and Drew Doughty tied team lead in scoring against Columbus last year. Each player recorded one goal and two assists against the Blue Jackets in the season series.
The Kings have won four of the last five meetings in Columbus and eight of the last 11 meetings overall. Since the Blue Jackets joined the league in 2000-01, Los Angeles is 23-17-4 overall and 10-9-3 overall on the road against Columbus.
The Blue Jackets are coming off a 4-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings at Nationwide Arena on Saturday. Artem Anisimov earned first star honors with two goals to take over the team lead with four goals overall. Mason was named the game’s second star with 32 saves on 34 shots.
Columbus made a major trade with the New York Rangers in July, acquiring Brandon Dubinsky, Tim Erixon, Anisimov and a first round draft pick in exchange for Rick Nash, minor league defenseman Steve Delisle and a conditional third round pick. Dubinsky (0-4=4, -4) and Anisimov (4-1-5, -1) have assumed major roles, while Erixon is scoreless and a minus-1 in two games since being recalled from AHL-Springfield, where he had led the team in defensive scoring with five goals and 24 assists in 40 games. He made his NHL debut against the Kings in last year’s NHL Premiere in Stockholm, a game won 3-2 in overtime by Los Angeles on Jack Johnson’s overtime game-winner. He is also the son of former Rangers defenseman Tim Erixon.
Speaking of Johnson, he has three points (1-2=3) and a minus-2 rating in nine games. Overall, Johnson has appeared in 30 games for the Blue Jackets since last year’s trade, totaling 17 points (5-12=17) and a plus-3 rating.
Goals/Game: LAK –27th / 2.14; CBJ – 29th / 1.89
Goals Against/Game: LAK – 24th / 3.14; CBJ – t-20th / 3.00
Power Play: LAK – 27th / 10.8%; CBJ – 23rd / 14.6%
Penalty Kill: LAK – 17th / 79.4%; CBJ – 7th / 85.7%
Faceoffs: LAK – 16 / 49.8%; CBJ – 28th / 46.3%
Projected Lines – Los Angeles
Dustin Brown – Anze Kopitar – Justin Williams
Simon Gagne – Mike Richards – Jeff Carter
Dwight King – Jarret Stoll – Trevor Lewis
Kyle Clifford – Colin Fraser – Jordan Nolan
Rob Scuderi – Drew Doughty
Slava Voynov – Alec Martinez
Davis Drewiske – Jake Muzzin
Notes: Dustin Penner, Brad Richardson and Andrew Bodnarchuk are the projected scratches. Dwight King is poised to re-enter the lineup and likely to slot back alongside Jarret Stoll and Trevor Lewis. As always, lineup projections are educated assessments and not certain alignments.
Projected Lines – Columbus
Derek Brassard – Brandon Dubinsky – Nick Foligno
R.J. Umberger – Artem Anisimov – Derek Dorsett
Matt Calvert – Ryan Johansen – Vinny Prospal
Mark Letestu – Derek MacKenzie – Jared Boll
Jack Johnson – Tim Erixon
Fedor Tyutin – Cody Goloubef
David Savard – Nick Holden
Notes: James Wisniewski, John Moore, Nikita Nikitin and Adrian Aucoin are all injured defensemen and won’t play tonight. Cody Goloubef’s time at the University of Wisconsin overlapped with Davis Drewiske for one year, in 2007-08. Tim Erixon, Nick Holden, David Savard and Goloubef have a combined 59 games of NHL experience – 33 of which belong to Savard, who had 10 points in 31 games with Columbus a season ago. Forward Cam Atkinson (ankle) is expected to miss a seventh straight game. The Blue Jackets are coming off their first two-day break in the schedule. As always, lineup projections are educated assessments and not certain alignments.
Justin Williams, on the importance of opening the trip on the right note:
“All you have to do is look at the standings to know how important they are. We’re 2-3-2. We’re behind where we expected to be at the outset of the season. It’s going to be an extremely important game. We’re looking to obviously win every single game we play. We need to start with tonight.”
Williams, on playing “ticked off” against Columbus:
“Individually, everyone needs to find their game. They shouldn’t be any more ‘ticked off’ tonight as you were two games ago. It should be the drive to be there every night, and there’s really no excuses.”
Williams, on whether there’s an added importance to forecheck and make hits deep in the offensive zone on a depleted Columbus defensive corps:
“No. Players play in the National Hockey League for a reason. Obviously some are better than others, but we don’t alter our system just because one of one or two players in the back end being out. We’ll try and play as hard of a game as we can and make it as difficult as we can for ‘em back there.”
Alec Martinez, on the team utilizing the experience of having played with Jack Johnson:
“I mean, yeah, you play with him for a while. You know him as a player. You know that he’s a really good player. He’s capable of making plays and things like that. He’s one of their best D-men, so we’ve just got to approach it like we do every other team’s top D-man and get in on him on the forecheck and just know that he’s a good player.”
Martinez, on what the team will be looking to establish on this roadtrip:
“I think first and foremost, we need a good start, not only obviously to the game, and then also to the roadtrip. I think just playing our game and staying staying consistent within our system – that’s what we need, especially at the beginning and then carry it on out and play a full 60 minutes. I think that this is a big game for us, and the start’s going to be crucial.”
Martinez, a former Miami University Red Hawk, on the Miami – Ohio State rivalry:
“I think we considered them our biggest rival. I don’t know if they necessarily considered us, because they’ve got that Ohio State-Michigan thing. I think that we won a lot of hockey games when I was at Miami, so that was good. Obviously, the in-state rivalry and only being two hours away was big. Plus, we played ‘em four times a year. I think, actually, between that, and then our Christmas tournament here, we always ended up meeting them in the finals, so we played them five times a year, which was a ton, especially in college. Obviously, that rivalry was there. It was kind of like how us and Anaheim are now. It was always a battle, regardless of any of the situations. It was a lot of fun, though.”