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Preview (Kings @ Blue Jackets): Every point counts

The Los Angeles Kings are quietly climbing up the standings with wins in four of the last five games.

NHL: Columbus Blue Jackets at Los Angeles Kings Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

How to Watch

Game Time: 4 p.m. Pacific Time

TV: Fox Sports West

Radio: iHeart Radio

The Opposition: The Cannon

What to Watch

It’s not over ‘til it’s over. Teams in professional leagues have no choice but to stick with the mantra while fans have to consistently remind themselves from season to season and game by game.

After spending a majority of the time as the floor mat of the Western Conference, the Los Angeles Kings have not lost a game in regulation in the past five games (4-0-1). Sure, this slight shift in the standings where Los Angeles is above Chicago and Anaheim may not last for long but a playoff berth is still in shouting distance.

To escape a hostile work environment like Boston against a team that leads the Atlantic Division lead by 10 points with a win is such a morale booster for a Kings team that lost to the shorthanded Penguins three days prior.

After being held off the score sheet in nine games of a 10-game stretch, Anze Kopitar has three goals in the last two games with the most recent serving as the game-winning tally in overtime against the Bruins.

Kopitar possesses a 20% shooting percentage in 2019-20, a career high for the 32 year old.

Having spent about eight seasons worth of NHL hockey with 492 games played, it is clear that Tyler Toffoli’s play embraces the gift giving spit every December. And this year is no different as Toffoli has nine points in the nine games played this month.

To say LA has been successful against the Columbus Blue Jackets in their head-to-head meetings is an understatement. In the last 20 games dating back to 2011, the Kings have dropped just six of those games.

Their most recent tilt in 2018 did, however, favor the Blue Jackets. But Artemi Panarin, who scored two goals en route to a 4-1 victory in that contest, is now enjoying the fruits of his labor while in the Big Apple.

Which now takes us to the 2019-20 edition of a Blue Jackets team where the top line consisting of Gustav Nyquist, Boone Jenner and Oliver Bjorkstrand has some people scratching their heads. Though Jenner’s rise to where he is makes sense, his linemates past whereabouts makes it interesting.

Nyquist, who at one point in his career showed potential to come a perennial 30-goal scorer as a 24 year old in Detroit, is 30 and has never fulfilled that expectation. But he has been on a roll as of late and even tallied two points against his former team in a 5-3 win for Columbus on Tuesday.

Bjorkstrand played a big role to help the Lake Erie Monsters clinch the Calder Cup in 2015-16 and now finds himself replacing a Cam Atkinson that lead the team in scoring with 41 goals last season.

The Blue Jackets are one of the few teams that have goal scoring issues worse than the Kings this season but they have picked it up a little, notching 3.66 goals per game in the last three games compared to their 2.56 season average.

Lineups

Los Angeles Kings

Iafallo — Kopitar — Brown
Clifford — Carter — Lewis
Prokorkin — Amadio — Toffoli
Kempe — Lizotte — Wagner

Ryan — Doughty
Hutton — Roy
MacDermid — Walker

Campbell

Columbus Blue Jackets

Nyquist — Jenner — Bjorkstrand
Texier — Dubois — Robinson
Foligno — Wennburg — Atkinson
Stenlund — Nash — Dano

Werenski — Jones
Gavrikov — Savard
Kukan — Peeke

Merzlikins