BLUE JACKETS (29-23-4) at KINGS (30-22-6)
7:30PM PT, TV: FOX SPORTS WEST; RADIO: AM 1150
‘BUS STOP: This is the second and final meeting with Columbus this season, and the first at STAPLES Center. The Kings fell to the Blue Jackets 5-3 at Nationwide Arena on January 21. The Kings have won three of their past four contests against the Blue Jackets, dating back to 2/5/13, one year ago yesterday. Columbus has lost each of their last three visits to STAPLES Center, dating back to 2/1/12. Can the Kings extend the Blue Jackets’ losing streak in Los Angeles tonight?
FEELING BLUE: The Kings are amidst what has clearly been their season-worst slump to date, which was in it’s start the last time the Kings played Columbus. With just a single win in their past 10 games (1-8-1), scoring only 13 goals in that span, the Kings are in dire need of a spark before they fall too far in the standings. The Blue Jackets are rolling, carrying a 7-3-0 record in their previous 10 games into tonight’s bout.
WHAT ABOUT BOB?: Cold on the offensive end, scoring 13 goals in their last 10 games, the Kings are hitting a hot goaltender in Columbus’ Sergei Bobrovsky tonight. The Blue Jackets’ netminder has won each of his past three starts, allowing just five goals on the 94 shots he’s faced during his current win-streak.
The Kings, who found three goals Monday night against Chicago at STAPLES Center, are going to need to see that type of offensive production tonight against Columbus, who has the 7th-best ranked offense in the NHL, posting 2.91 goals per game.
THE LAST TIME THEY WERE HERE: The Blue Jackets last visited STAPLES Center on April 18, 2013, when the Kings beat Sergei Bobrovsky twice on 23 shots to secure a 2-1 win over Columbus.
After Columbus’ Dalton Prout knotted the game 1-1 in the second period, Kyle Clifford responded just 1:25 later, slamming home the game-winning goal for the Kings with 6:28 to play in the second period.
BLUE JACKET, RED DOG
ONE FOR THE ROAD: Tonight marks the final game for the Kings for the next 19 days, as the NHL takes a hiatus for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. The Kings’ next commitment after tonight will be on February 26, when they’re scheduled to be in Colorado to play the Avalanche. Can they send themselves off on a good note tonight?
AFTER TWO AND WE’RE THROUGH: If the Kings can carry over the offense that saw them post three goals Monday into tonight, and hold a lead after 40 minutes of play, they should be all right. Dating back to April 4, 2009, the Kings are 121-1-11 when leading after two periods. Can they trigger the red-light early and often against the Blue Jackets tonight?
CLOCKING IN: The STAPLES Center clock hurt the Kings Monday night when it stalled twice early in the third period, prolonging Matt Greene’s penalty. Chicago scored almost simultaneously as Greene stepped out of the box (albeit late), giving the Blackhawks a 4-2 lead, and the night’s eventual game-winning goal.
The last time the STAPLES Center clock affected the Kings; it was against the Blue Jackets, and it was in a good way. On February 1, 2012, Drew Doughty sent home the game-winning goal for the Kings against Columbus with 0:00.4 seconds left on the game clock.
However, the clock ‘stalled’ at the 1.8 second mark, 1.4 seconds before Doughty beat Curtis Sanford, who now plays in the Kontinental Hockey League.
YOU GOT THE TIME?
HIT THE ROAD, JACK: Since the Kings traded defenseman Jack Johnson to the Columbus Blue Jackets on February 23, 2012 for Jeff Carter and a conditional first-round raft pick, the Kings have gone 3-2-0 against Columbus and their former defenseman.
Johnson's doing all right this year. He's got 20 points (3G, 17A) in 56 games with a -3 rating.
Can the Kings oust Johnson and the Jackets tonight?
RED BEATS BLUE
WE’RE DOING IT LIVE: Catch KINGS LIVE on FOX SPORTS WEST at 7:00 PT, followed with Bob and Jim on scene at STAPLES Center for the live-play-by-play at 7:30.