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Vitals, betting odds and lineups projected against blue jackets

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The LA Kings return home for a crucial game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night. Todd McLellan’s squad has just six games remaining in the regular season, and every game is against non-playoff teams. It’s time to take care of business.

Here’s how the Kings and Blue Jackets match up on paper:

Credit: JFresh Hockey
LA Kings
Credit: NHL.com

Top scorers:

LAK: Anze Kopitar – 18 goals, 44 assists, 62 points

CBJ: Patrik Laine – 26 goals, 30 assists, 56 points

Betting odds

The Kings come into this one as favorites, according to our sponsors at DraftKings.

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  • Kings odds: -195
  • Blue Jacket Ratings: +160
  • Over/Under: 6.5
  • Time: 7:30 p.m. PT
  • Broadcast Info: BSW, BSOH, ESPN+

Projected compositions

Here’s how the Kings lined up in practice Friday, via LA Kings Insider:

Athanasiou–Kopitar–Kempe
Moore-Danault-Arvidsson
Iafallo – Lizotte – Brown
Lemieux–Kaliyev–Kupari–Grundström
Vilardi–Byfield–Andersson

Edler Roy
Moverare – Durzi
Maatta Spence
Bjornfot–Stecher–Strand

Rapid / Petersen

It should be noted that Quinton Byfield and Gabe Vilardi wore purple jerseys on Friday, setting them up to be healthy scratches on Saturday night.

Andreas Athanasiou ditched the red jersey with no contact and was skating on the front row with Anze Kopitar and Adrian Kempe. When healthy, the 27-year-old has been a big contributor on offense, with 14 points in just 22 games. Prior to his injury, Athanasiou had scored four goals in his last three games. The Kings could use someone to step up offensively – Athanasiou could be that guy if he drops back in the lineup.

The situation for goalkeepers is difficult to predict. After Wednesday’s disaster in Colorado, where Jonathan Quick dropped the top three and Cal Petersen dropped the next six, there doesn’t seem to be a clear direction as to who might get the go-ahead.

That said, Quick got the start in the last game, stopping 26 of 29 shots. Could McLellan rely on the old guard in these desperate times? He was the first off the ice on Friday, which could lead him to the start.

“At this time of year, I’d rather someone get really hot around this time,” McLellan told Zach Dooley. “That’s what I would prefer. I don’t think in training camp you can sit back and say this guy is going to play that many games. Not where we started as an organization either, we need to grow, but right now warm up and play.

Here’s how the Blue Jackets lined up in Wednesday’s 5-1 win over Montreal:

Both Kent Johnson and Nick Blankenburg made their NHL debuts in the contest, with the latter picking up his first point on Cole Sillinger’s 13th goal of the year.

Patrik Laine was involved in the first three goals and he scored in the final game. In addition to Laine, the Blue Jackets have Sillinger, who impressed during his rookie campaign, as well as Jack Roslovic, who has five goals and six points in his last two games.

The Kings will likely see Elvis Merzlikins in this one. He made some big saves last game, stopping 39 of 43 total shots.

It’s a game the Kings absolutely must win. With Vegas playing Edmonton on Saturday, a win for LA and a regulation loss for the Golden Knights would create a still slim three-point split in the standings.

The LA Kings and Jackets start at 7:30 p.m. PT.

(Main photo credit: NHL.com)