Feb.1, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Kings right wing Justin Williams (14) and center Anze Kopitar (11) go after the puck as Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Fedor Tyutin (51) defends during the first period of the game at the Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Kings vs. Columbus Blue Jackets Preview

Feb.1, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets left wing R.J. Umberger (18) and Los Angeles Kings center Jarret Stoll (28) during a face off in the second period of the game at the Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spo

Previewing the Los Angeles Kings’ 2012-13 season:

Game 12 vs. Columbus, February 15, 2013, 7:30pm PST (10:30pm EST)

After a five-game road trip where they went 2-3-0, the Los Angeles Kings return home to Staples Center where they get set to host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday night. The meeting will be the second of three between the two clubs this season with the Kings winning the first duel back on February 5, a 4-2 score in the Ohio capital.

When the Kings and Jackets met a little over a week ago, the road team got some help from Mike Richards who scored a goal and an assist and Justin Williams who chipped in with three assists. In fact, the team had quite a bit of success up front that night as nine different Kings registered at least a point. The Kings certainly hope for the same type of contributions and then some as Friday will mark their first game without defenseman Alec Martinez who suffered an upper-body injury last game, leaving his team that much more depleted on the back end.

As of now, both teams can go with either goaltender. Steve Mason was between the pipes for Columbus last meeting and given his less-than-stellar overall record against Los Angeles, don’t be surprised to see Sergei Bobrovsky get the nod instead come Friday night. As for the Kings, logic would suggest that Jonathan Bernier will get the start given that the Jackets are not among the West’s elite teams. With that said though, Bernier did play (and win) last game but since it’s been five days between meetings, don’t be shocked to see Jonathan Quick in between the pipes for the home side. After all, despite some shakiness last week, Quick will have been off for five days when the puck drops so the time should have given him enough time to rest and recuperate.

With the Kings at 4-5-2 and the Jackets at 4-7-2, both clubs are tied for 13th in the West with 10 points apiece. Don’t let that discourage you, though. A win from either side will help a great deal, especially the Kings who then have to play the still-unbeaten-in-regulation Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday.

With all that said however, the most interesting storyline heading into Friday’s matchup will be the return of Jack Johnson who is set to make his first appearance at Staples Center as a visiting player. The Columbus defenseman was traded from Los Angeles last February for Jeff Carter and while I can’t guarantee what type of reception he’ll get, it’s a safe bet to assume that Johnson will be treated warmly by the Staples faithful. After all, in nearly six years, Jack Johnson not only contributed to the Kings’ success overall but was an integral piece in transitioning one of the league’s worst defensive units into one of the league’s best.

So, all that’s left is the drop the puck and the Kings hope returning home will be just what the doctor ordered to start a new winning streak.

Enjoy the game!

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