Los Angeles Kings 2015-16 Regular Season:
Game 13 vs. Columbus, November 5, 2015, 7:30pm PST
The Los Angeles Kings return to STAPLES Center on Thursday to kick off a five-game homestand. There, they will play host to the 3-10-0 Columbus Blue Jackets which, despite their dismal overall record, have played better hockey since their 0-7-0 start to the season.
Another reason for Columbus’s recent success has been the installment of new head coach John Tortorella, who replaced Todd Richards on Oct. 21 after the club’s said abysmal start. The Jackets have now won three of their last six and while that remains a modest mark, it is a vast improvement. In fact. Columbus is coming off scoring a season-high five goals on Tuesday when they defeated the Sharks by a 5-2 count in San Jose. The Jackets, however, will be in tough on Thursday as they visit a Kings team which has lost just once in their last nine outings.
Thursday marks the first of two meetings between the Kings and Blue Jackets this season. Los Angeles won both meetings last year but if they want to continue those winning ways, they will most likely have to do it without the services of Anze Kopitar.
En route to their Tuesday-night win in St. Louis, Kopitar suffered an elbow to the face courtesy of Blues’ big man Ryan Reaves. Kopitar fell hard to the ice while losing some teeth in the process and while he was able to play a few more shifts, ultimately left the game and did not return. Kopitar, however, according to head coach Darryl Sutter, feels fine but his status for Thursday remains questionable.
Despite recording a shutout last game, Jhonas Enroth will be on the bench on this night, making way for Jonathan Quick who won both meetings against the Jackets last season. Columbus also needs to find a way to contain Jeff Carter who led all scorers with two goals and four assists in last year’s season series. Tyler Toffoli was close behind with two goals and three helpers. But this season, the duo has a new linemate in Milan Lucic and, as the new trio have now formed the TLC Line, it will interesting to see what they can contribute on Thursday.
As far as the Blue Jackets, the Kings will need to find a way to contain, among others, Scott Hartnell as he leads his club with nine points on the season. Hartnell scored a goal and added an assist last season against the silver-and-black as did David Savard. Ryan Johansen scored once and added two helpers against the Kings last season. But this year, the Kings will also need to slow down Boone Jenner who is leading the Jackets with seven goals thus far.
Looking at it on paper, some may see this matchup as a mismatch. However, no team should be overlooked as the Kings need to maintain their strong play should they hope to kick their homestand off on a high note.
Enjoy the game!