The Columbus Blue Jackets (32-26-5) will be out west this evening. Awaiting them will be the Los Angeles Kings (35-24-5). The puck drop is scheduled for shortly after 10:30 PM ET.
The Columbus Blue Jackets have shaken up the lineup a bit, adding Mark Letestu, Thomas Vanek and Ian Cole at the trade deadline. A 5-1 victory over the Washington Capitals was a positive sign, but an even bigger test is coming up in the next four days. Three road matchups are next on the docket for the CBJ with the Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks respectively. Not only does Columbus have to travel across the country—all three teams awaiting them currently have a record of at least ten games above .500.
First thing’s first, tonight’s matchup with the Kings. L.A. is coming off back-to-back victories over the Vegas Golden Knights on Monday and Tuesday.
The Jackets are also coming off consecutive victories, with each coming at home, first against the Chicago Blackhawks and, most recently, a 5-1 victory on Monday night over the Washington Capitals. The win over the Caps was highlighted by a four-goal outburst in the first period from the CBJ, including two of the power-play variety.
Columbus’ offense will be put to the test against the Kings tonight, who lead the National Hockey League in goals-allowed average and also feature the second-best penalty-kill percentage.
CBJ Head Coach John Tortorella admitted his team was was upbeat in a sense after making some moves at the trade deadline following Monday’s win saying:
It gives you some juice.
The Jackets will take all the “juice” they can get to help them get a win tonight.
Forward Josh Anderson is expected to be out for a month due to a knee-to-knee incident against the Capitals, but Thomas Vanek will make his debut for Columbus and Captain Nick Foligno will return from injury to nicely offset the blow to the squad.
Defenseman Seth Jones is coming off a three-point performance and noticed a defensive unit for the CBJ that stuck to the basics and played loose in their last performance after acquiring Ian Cole. Here’s some of what he had to say to echo the aforementioned sentiments:
We just went out and played. It didn’t look like we were thinking.
A year ago the Jackets started gripping the stick tight, finishing the season 3-6-2 in their last 11 games. Columbus has 19 games remaining right now, with the results of their current three-game west-coast trip possibly making or breaking their ultimate fate of making it to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
If Columbus can play loose and with a little extra “juice” it might just be the perfect ingredients for success out west.
Joonas Korpisalo will be in net for the CBJ, while Jonathan Quick is the expected starter for L.A.
Both the Kings and Jackets look to be headed toward playoff berths, but neither team has much of a cushion at the moment. There’s plenty on the line as the CBJ will look to put two points in the bank during their visit to the Staples Center.