The Blue Jackets expect to make some lineup changes tonight as they get set to take on the Los Angeles Kings at Nationwide Arena. Maksim Mayorov was recalled this morning from Springfield (AHL), and he is likely to slot in alongside Ryan Johansen and Ryan Russell this evening.
Interim head coach Todd Richards delivered some unfortunate news on the injury front after the morning skate: Fedor Tyutin broke his hand in the third on Tuesday night and it appears his season is finished. Derek MacKenzie has been “in and out” with concussion-like symptoms, Richards added, and he will not be in the lineup tonight. Johansen will draw in and shift over to his natural center position, and Darryl Boyce will anchor the fourth line.
Steve Mason starts in goal for Columbus and he’s likely to face Jonathan Bernier for the Kings – yet another opponent that desperately needs two points from the Blue Jackets. Jeff Carter, traded to Los Angeles in exchange for Jack Johnson just 13 days ago, plays his first game against his former club tonight.
Here is the expected Blue Jackets lineup for tonight’s game:
|LW ||C ||RW |
|Umberger ||Brassard ||Nash |
|Prospal ||Letestu ||Atkinson |
|Gillies ||Boyce ||Dorsett |
|Russell ||Johansen ||Mayorov |
|LD ||RD |
|J. Johnson ||Wisniewski |
|Nikitin ||A. Johnson |
|Moore ||Lebda |
- Establish the forecheck: Under Darryl Sutter (and former coach Terry Murray, as well), the Kings are a patient, counterattack team that feeds of opposition turnovers. The Blue Jackets can combat that by getting in on the forecheck and disrupting the Kings defensemen, making them go back for pucks and laying the body.
- Get to the middle: Outside shots and perimeter opportunities aren’t going to solve Jon Quick and his elite goaltending numbers. The Blue Jackets have to get to the “greasy” areas in and around the net and win the one-on-one battles.
- Keep it 5-on-5: Columbus’ even-strength game has been pretty good of late, and they don’t want to give the Kings power play any additional practice time. Los Angeles has offensive firepower with Drew Doughty, Anze Kopitar and others, and giving them extra room to operate only plays into their game.
Todd Richards on facing the red-hot Kings: “They’re a confident team, but I think we’re confident team, too. I don’t see them as having the momentum – I see us coming into the game with three straight wins ourselves, feeling good and having momentum on our side. I think there’s a unique twist to the game with Jeff Carter in the LA uniform and Jack Johnson (here). They’re a team that’s battling to get into the playoffs and first place in their division. Every point is critical for them.”
Richards on moving Johansen back to center: “It’ll be an adjustment for him, probably a big adjustment. There’s a lot more demand on you as a player when you’re playing the middle at both ends of the rink. You’re going to have battle and compete in the corners, down low in the d-zone and in front of the net. I hope he looks at it that this is his opportunity, playing in the middle…a chance to show the coach and the team that he can play in that position.”
AT THE ARENA VS. LOS ANGELES
Here are some tips for fans attending the game at Nationwide Arena tonight:
• Doors will open tonight at 6:00 p.m. for the 7:07 p.m. puck drop.
•Do you have your green for St. Patrick’s Day? The Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation is auction pre-game worn and autographed green player jerseys in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. Stop by the Bud Light terrace to place your bid.
•Speaking of jerseys….TONIGHT ONLY, stop by the Blue Line before the end of the first period to get your Carter jersey changed to J. Johnson for FREE! Limited quanties are available so get there early to make the switch.
• You’ve heard about it all season, and tonight is the big night. Tonight is the finale of the Sports Clips man makeover contest. Get introduced to the man-in-need-of-a-makeover during the first period and stay tuned during the second for the big reveal.