Blue Jackets-Kings: Struggling Defenses Point to Plenty of Goals

Matthew Jordan

Friday, November 2, 2018 2:06 PM UTC

Friday, Nov. 2, 2018 2:06 PM UTC

The Los Angeles Kings have been perhaps the NHL’s biggest disappointments as they host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night.

Columbus (7-5-0) at Los Angeles (3-8-1)Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ETFree NHL Pick: OverBest Line Offered: SportsBetting

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We’ve already had a coach fired in the NBA – Cleveland’s Ty Lue. How long will it take for the first NHL coach to get the pink slip? Some believe the leading contender for that is the Los Angeles Kings’ John Stevens, even though he has only been on the job since April 2017.

Stevens got L.A. into last year’s Stanley Cup playoffs, but the Kings flopped in a four-game sweep at the hands of the Vegas Golden Knights and that almost has carried over to this season with L.A. last in the Pacific Division and with the fewest points in the West despite one of the league’s highest payrolls. With no cap space, the front office can’t really do anything player-wise.

Ilya Kovalchuk has been largely a free-agent bust with 10 points (L.A. is last in scoring), and former Conn Smythe Trophy winner Jonathan Quick has been limited to four games due to a lower-body injury. He’s being called a “little more than day-to-day.” Backup Jack Campbell has played … meh.

L.A. started a season-high seven-game homestand with a 4-3 win over the Rangers last Sunday to stop a six-game losing streak, and then followed that up Thursday with a 5-2 loss to Philadelphia. Jeff Carter and Kovalchuk had the goals. Campbell allowed four goals – in each of L.A.’s past seven losses, it has allowed at least four. The Kings are 24th in GAA.

If the Kings are still in the dumps at the end of this long home stretch (Nov. 13 vs. Toronto is last game, Stevens might be a goner).

The Kings haven’t lost a season series to the Blue Jackets since the 2007-08 season. Last year, L.A. won both and is 10-3 at home this decade vs. Columbus. Dustin Brown (1G, 3A), Jake Muzzin (1G, 3A) and Alex Iafallo (2G, 2A) led the Kings with four points against the Jackets last year. Quick won both with a 3.00 GAA and .912 SV.

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The first LA Kings goal on the @ESPNDeportes broadcast makes for an amazing Call of the Game by @FX_Rivera and @NanoCortes123 🙌 pic.twitter.com/bghHP5iSr6

— LA Kings (@LAKings) November 2, 2018
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Not Your Usual Jackets

Columbus is usually predictable: Mediocre offensively but terrific on defense anchored by goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. However, the script has been flipped this year as the Jackets are fourth in scoring (3.6 gpg), 25th on the penalty kill (73.7 percent) and 24th in goals-against (3.7). Bobrovsky has really off more often than not, and it hasn’t helped that Brandon Dubinsky and Seth Jones have both missed time due to injury; Dubinsky is still out but is with the team.

The Blue Jackets started the California Swing Thursday with a 4-1 win in San Jose with Bobrovsky playing probably his best game of the year in making 44 saves. Over his past two games, Bobrovsky has save a percentage of .971.

"That was our best game defensively," Bobrovsky said. "We were tight. We didn't give up the odd-man rushes

Nick Foligno had two goals yet wasn’t even one of the game’s three stars. Anthony Duclair was No. 1 with a goal and assist. Josh Anderson scored his team-best seventh goal, a short-handed one into an empty net. It was San Jose's first regulation loss since Oct. 14 at New Jersey.

  • Over is 20-6 in Blue Jackets last 26 road games.
  • Over is 5-0 in Kings last 5 home games.

The Kings simply aren’t the same defensively without Quick, while the Jackets have found some offense. Thus, the ‘over’ is the best Saturday NHL pick.

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