Just over two weeks after the two teams completed a significant trade, the LA Kings and Columbus Blue Jackets meet on Thursday.
LA Kings (39-20-9)
The Kings held an optional morning skate today. Here’s how tonight’s lineup could look:
Byfield – Kopitar – Kempe
Moore – Danault – Arvidsson
Iafallo – Lizotte – Vilardi
Grundstrom – Kupari – Kaliyev
Anderson – Doughty
Gavrikov – Roy
Edler – Walker
Columbus Blue Jackets (21-38-7)
Columbus knocked off the San Jose Sharks in overtime on Tuesday, here’s how they lined up:
#CBJ new-look lines/pairs:
Gaudreau – Jenner – Bemstrom
Laine – Roslovic – Marchenko
Robinson – Sillinger – Johnson
Foudy – Pedersen – Olivier
Blankenburg – Gudbranson
Berni – Peeke
Bayreuther – Boqvist
— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) March 15, 2023
Daniil Tarasov started in goal, making 27 saves on 32 shots.
Here’s how the two teams match up at 5-on-5 per Natural Stat Trick
|Columbus Blue Jackets||45.4||45.2||44.9||43.9||7.8||0.908||0.986|
|Los Angeles Kings||52.0||52.8||52.6||53.6||8.3||0.903||0.986|
There are pretty significant differences between these two teams, particularly since the Kings took away one of the few things the Blue Jackets had going for them this season in Joonas Korpisalo.
|Columbus Blue Jackets||17.7||76.4|
|Los Angeles Kings||24.6||76.0|
The LA Kings’ power play broke out of its mini-slump, scoring twice against the Islanders on Tuesday.
Let’s look at the odds, courtesy of Betstamp.
*Note: the odds below are for sports books offered in New York. Refer to available sports books specific to your state.
**Odds as of 2:30 pm ET/11:30 am PT may have changed since the writing of this article.
As expected, the LA Kings are heavy favorites on Thursday. BetMGM offers the best price on the Kings at -275. BetRivers’ +240 is the best number on the visiting Blue Jackets. The total on the game is 6.5, with multiple books offering the Over at -115 while BetRivers has the Under at +102.
The Kings are playing some of their best hockey of the season and have their sights set on the Pacific Division. I fully expect them to control this game, and Columbus does not have a goaltender that can keep them off the board. I like the Kings tonight and you can take them in regulation at Caesars for -189.
News & Notes
- Johnny Gaudreau, the Blue Jackets’ big offseason acquisition, is currently riding a five-game point streak and is coming off a big night in the Shark Tanks, scoring a pair of goals to go along with three assists. He hasn’t been the problem in Columbus, scoring at nearly a point-per-game pace (62 points in 64 games).
- With Tarasanov starting, and struggling, on Tuesday, I would expect Elvis Merzlikins to get the nod on Thursday. Merzlikins is 7-17-2 with a 4.10 goals-against average, and a .880 save percentage this season.
- Quinton Byfield‘s empty net goal against the Islanders was his first goal since January 21st. He has 11 points in the 23 games since then.
- This will be his first game against his former team for Vladislav Gavrikov. He has been excellent in his early days in Los Angeles, even picking up four points in his six games with the Kings.
- Kevin Fiala missed his second straight game on Tuesday and isn’t expected to be in the lineup against Columbus.
- Columbus is currently the front-runner in the Connor Bedard sweepstakes, sitting in last place in the NHL, two points worse than Chicago.
- Other games of note in the Pacific Division tonight include the Edmonton Oilers (five points back of LA) hosting the Dallas Stars, while the Vegas Golden Knights (three points ahead of the Kings for the division lead) are hosting the Calgary Flames, who are trying to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. The Seattle Kraken, currently in the top Wild Card spot but just one point behind Edmonton, are in San Jose tonight.
- The Kings are 7-1-2 in their last ten games and are riding a seven-game point streak.
(Main Photo Credit: Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports)