Preview: Los Angeles Kings (5-0-1) @ Columbus Blue Jackets (5-2-0)
We’ll make this a quick one, as yours truly is currently sitting in the airport in Nashville, dreaming about eating biscuits and BBQ and a world where Jeff Carter didn’t need to have parts of his leg glued back together. (Don’t @ me, I didn’t go to med school.)
After the injury, I’d hoped to take a picture of myself clutching several Jeff Carter jerseys and weeping profusely, but for several reasons, including but not limited to my arms not being long enough for a good selfie, it didn’t work out. As a stand-in, please accept this photo of me, wearing a Carter CBJ jersey at this past All-Star Game.
My large boring almost-same-age son pic.twitter.com/9bnk1BOXwn— sarah. (@goorgoahead) January 29, 2017
Jeff Carter’s missing ankle parts mean that he’ll be missing out on the one game a season he’s certain to get booed at relentlessly. In many ways, it’s my favorite game of the season, as Carter clearly gets a lot of joy out of getting booed. I’d hoped maybe he’d net his first goal of the season against his old team, but instead we’re getting…
Oh. Uh. Second line center Nick Shore.
Uh-huh. Well then.
Look, if you’ve read any of my posts here over the past almost-year, you’ll know I have a certain fondness for Nick Shore. But second-line-Nick-Shore is a huge jump from bottom-six-stalwart-Nick-Shore, and it remains to be seen what he’s going to do with the extra responsibility, or how John Stevens is going to deploy that line. Fortunately, all he needs to do is get the puck to Pearson or Toffoli and then get himself in front of the net, but still. It’s going to be a terribly tense adventure.
(Remember when we said at the start of the season that the Kings’ margin for error was razor thin? Well, it’s only October and we’ve found it already.)
Brooks Laich, who’d been practicing with the team since his PTO expired, is officially signed to a contract and will make his debut tonight on the fourth line, between Andy Andreoff and Justin Auger. I don’t know about you, but I don’t expect that line to do much.
The Blue Jackets, meanwhile, are doing fairly well for themselves, with only two losses. They were shut out in their last game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, despite massively outshooting their opponents, ending a four-game winning streak. So the team’s going to be coming in frustrated, wanting to overcome a blemish of a game on an otherwise great start to their season.
The biggest change for the Blue Jackets this year is the Artemi Panarin/Brandon Saad swap, which sent Saad back to Chicago in exchange for the Russian winger. Panarin will play on the top line, with Cam Atkinson, a similarly sized speedy player with a great shot.
Pierre-Luc Dubois, a top draft pick, has joined the team full-time this year and is playing on what looks to be an energy line, with Brandon Dubinsky and Josh contract-holdout Anderson. (Dubinsky always seems to delight in playing against the Kings, so don’t be surprised if he tries to mix it up with someone in the game. Looking at you, Andy Andreoff.)
Sergei Bobrovsky will be in net, and -- much like with the Kings and Jonathan Quick -- as Bobrovsky goes, so do the Blue Jackets.
Please share photos of your prayer shrines to Jeff Carter’s health and well-being. We might need some entertainment tonight.
Projected Line Combinations
Los Angeles Kings
Iafallo - Kopitar - Brown
Pearson - Shore - Toffoli
Cammalleri - Kempe - Lewis
Andreoff - Laich - Auger
Forbort - Doughty
Muzzin - Fantenberg
Martinez - Folin
Columbus Blue Jackets
Panarin - Wennberg - Atkinson
Jenner - Foligno - Bjorkstrand
Dubois - Dubinsky - Anderson
Milano - Sedlak - Calvert
Werenski - Jones
Johnson - Savard
Murray - Nutivaara
Opposing Preview: The Cannon