Blue Jackets-Kings Preview
GAME: Columbus Blue Jackets (17-31-8-4) at Los Angeles Kings (22-17-14-7).
TIME: Saturday, 10:30 p.m. EST.
The Columbus Blue Jackets may be one of the worst teams in the NHL, but to
the Los Angeles Kings, they are hardly cellar-dwellers.
The Blue Jackets will look to continue their surprising dominance of the
Kings when the teams meet at Staples Center.
Ahead of just Chicago and Pittsburgh in the overall standings, the Blue
Jackets have won only three of 28 road games this season (3-19-4-2). They have
lost four of their last five overall (1-3-0-1), including a 3-2 defeat in
Phoenix on Friday.
But whenever the Kings come up on the schedule, the Blue Jackets turn into a
different team. Columbus is unbeaten in its last eight against Los Angeles
(7-0-1), including a 2-0-1 mark this season.
The Blue Jackets kept the hex intact in their last meeting as David Vyborny
scored 1:58 into overtime, giving Columbus a 3-2 home victory over Los Angeles
on Feb. 11.
Despite Friday's loss, the Blue Jackets are a respectable 8-10-4-1 under
interim coach Gerard Gallant.
Pascal Leclaire may get another start Saturday following his impressive NHL
debut in a losing effort Friday. The 21-year-old goaltender stopped 28 shots.
"It's frustrating when any team comes back on you," Leclaire said. "I
know, though, that I can play in that league. Now I just have to make the big
The Kings have followed up a seven-game unbeaten streak (4-0-3) with a
five-game slide (0-2-1-2), including a 4-3 loss to Dallas on Wednesday.
"We played well, but made some mental errors," Luc Robitaille said. "It's
like a playoff game and you can't afford to make mistakes like that."
Robitaille, Derek Armstrong and Sean Avery scored for the Kings, who fell
into ninth place in the Western Conference playoff race, one point behind St.
Louis and two back of Nashville.
Kings coach Andy Murray said his team cannot overcome all of its injuries
unless it sticks to the game plan on a nightly basis.
"This game was not about our work ethic or our determination," Murray
said. "We were not as smart as we needed to be."
Robitaille, who turned 38 Tuesday, has 1,357 points - 12 fewer than John
Bucyk for the most by a left winger. Robitaille already leads the position in
goals with 646.
STANDINGS: Blue Jackets - 46 points, 4th place, 34 PB, Central Division.
Kings - 65 points, 3rd place, 9 PB, Pacific Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Blue Jackets - Rick Nash, 31 goals and 42 points; Todd
Marchant and Vyborny, 21 assists; Jody Shelley, 166 PIM. Kings - Alexander
Frolov, 19 goals; Ziggy Palffy and Jozef Stumpel, 25 assists; Palffy, 41
points; Sean Avery, 216 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through Feb. 19): Blue Jackets - Power play: 14.4 percent (43
for 299), 23rd in NHL. Penalty killing: 83.2 percent (193 for 232), 21st. Kings
- Power play: 14.2 percent (37 for 261), 24th (tied). Penalty killing: 79.9
percent (214 for 268), 29th.
GOALTENDERS: Blue Jackets - Marc Denis (15-25-7, 3 SO, 2.47 GAA); Fred
Brathwaite (2-9-1, 0, 3.41); Leclaire (0-1-0, 3.00). Kings - Roman Cechmanek
(18-16-6, 5, 2.43); Cristobal Huet (4-7-8, 2, 2.61).
SEASON SERIES: Blue Jackets, 2-0-1.
LAST MEETING: Feb. 11; Blue Jackets, 3-2, OT. At Columbus, defensemen
Jaroslav Spacek and rookie Aaron Johnson also scored for the Blue Jackets,
while Frolov and Joe Corvo had goals for the Kings.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Blue Jackets - 3-19-4-2 on the road; Kings - 10-9-8-1 at