Kings-Blue Jackets Preview
The Los Angeles Kings feel it may be good to get away to the Midwest as they continue a five-game road trip.
The Kings hope to take advantage of an injury-plagued Columbus Blue Jackets' blue line when these teams meet Tuesday night.
Los Angeles (2-3-2) opened this stretch with Saturday's 7-4 loss at Anaheim. Now the defending Stanley Cup champions will try to make up ground for their poor start on this trip that takes them to every Central Division city except Chicago.
"I think it's going to be good for us to kind of get away for a couple days on the road," said Kyle Clifford, who has a team-high five points.
Jonathan Quick was pulled from a start for the first time since last Feb. 22, and Los Angeles surrendered three power-play goals Saturday. The Kings, who got two goals from Dustin Brown, allowed at least seven in a game only once last season.
"Giving up that many goals is very uncharacteristic and we need to watch video and figure it out," defenseman Drew Doughty said.
Columbus (3-5-1) doesn't figure to pose much of a threat with an average of 1.89 goals for one of the NHL's worst marks.
The Blue Jackets are just as concerned about their defense. James Wisniewski suffered a concussion in Saturday's 4-2 home win over Detroit, and fellow defenseman Nikita Nikitin has been placed on injured reserve to join Adrian Aucoin on the sidelines.
That puts more pressure on players such as former Kings defenseman Jack Johnson, who spent nearly 35 minutes on the ice Saturday to establish a new career high.
"I've had nine months to get ready for this and that's why you train in the summer and I feel great and I keep telling the coaches to keep putting me out, I guess," Johnson said.
Columbus has recalled Nick Holden from Springfield of the AHL to give the club six defensemen for this game. Holden last played for the club two seasons ago.
"You couldn't be more happy than the way the guys played tonight," Mason said. "It was the first real 60-minute effort that we've been looking for and haven't been getting the last few games."
These clubs split four low-scoring games last season as they totaled 13 goals. Columbus went 0 for 17 on the power play in those games and has come up empty in 36 chances over its last 10 versus Los Angeles.
Los Angeles had won four straight at Columbus before a 3-1 defeat March 8. Johnson scored against his former team in the first contest between these clubs since the Feb. 23 deal that also sent Jeff Carter to the Kings.
The Blue Jackets have been solid on the penalty kill at 85.7 percent. The Kings have one of the league's worst power plays at 10.8 percent, but that unit is 4 for 14 over the last three games.
"The power play's been pretty good the last couple of games, that's one of our strong points," Doughty said.