|The last time the Blue Jackets met up with the Los Angeles Kings, they had just made a coaching change and interim coach John Stevens was in his second game as the bench boss. Columbus scored first in that game on a fluky goal credited to Jeff Carter, but the Kings rallied in the third period to claim a 2-1 victory in regulation. |
Just a few days later, Kings GM Dean Lombardi made the official announcement and hired Darryl Sutter as the team’s next full-time coach. The hire was a hot topic in the hockey world, as many wondered if a man who has been out of coaching for several years was the right man to turn a stumbling Kings squad around. But if the first eight games with Sutter in charge are any indication of the future, Kings fans have a lot to look forward to.
Los Angeles has posted a record of 5-0-3 under the new head coach and they’ve been involved in several tight games. The Kings are 12-6-7 in one-goal games this season and are nearly flawless when they lead after two periods, holding a 12-0-2 record in those situations. They haven’t lost at home in five games (4-0-1 in that stretch) and are getting scoring from up and down their lineup. Dustin Brown has five goals in his last 11 games, and it’s no surprise that the Kings have picked up their game once Mike Richards returned to the lineup a few weeks ago.
Acquired by the Kings in an offseason trade, Richards has been one of the Kings’ most consistent scorers and is regarded as one of the best penalty killers in the NHL. Los Angeles is 18-8-7 with Richards in the lineup this season.
With a strong group of forwards and skill on defense, the Kings are even more dangerous because of their star goaltender, Jonathan Quick. He was tremendous at Nationwide Arena on Dec. 15, and is 6-0-2 in his last eight games with a 1.20 GAA. It is expected that Quick will be the Kings’ starting goaltender this afternoon against the Blue Jackets.
| || || |
|Nash (12) ||Richards (13) |
|Prospal (20) ||Kopitar (25) |
|Prospal (28) ||Kopitar (36) |
|Dorsett (84) ||Clifford (50) |
|MacKenzie (+8) ||Three tied (+3) |
|Sanford (5-7-3) |
|Quick (18-10-6) |
|Sanford (2.66) ||Quick (1.95) |
|Sanford (.908) ||Quick (.933) || |
|• Columbus enters the second game of a four-game road trip with today’s afternoon contest against the Kings. The Blue Jackets are in the midst of playing eight of 10 and 10 of 14 on the road. After going 7-5-3 during a 15-game stretch Nov. 12-Dec. 13, Columbus has gone 1-7-1 its last nine games. |
• Vinny Prospal snapped an 11-game goalless skid with his eighth of the season Thursday at San Jose. He had last scored Dec. 6 at Montreal. He has registered 2-7-9 the last 15 games, while dating back to last season he has 17-34-51 his last 68 games.
• Tonight marks second of four meetings overall and first of two at STAPLES Center this season between the Blue Jackets and Kings. Columbus is 18-20-3 all-time against Los Angeles, including a 7-12-1 mark at STAPLES Center. The Kings have won three-straight against the Jackets and six of the last seven.
• The Blue Jackets have been held to nine goals its last five games (1.80 goals per game) after scoring 30 goals the previous 10 games (3.00).
•Ryan Russell, added to the roster on emergency recall from Springfield (AHL) yesterday, is expected to make his NHL debut today against the Kings. He has collected 60-55-115 in 273 career AHL games.