Former Los Angeles Kings defenseman Jack Johnson will make his return to Staples Center for the first time wearing a Columbus Blue Jackets jersey on Friday. Johnson was a key member of the Kings' powerful defense, but after the offense sputtered for long periods last season, Los Angeles traded him to the Blue Jackets in exchange for some much-needed offensive power. The Kings received forward Jeff Carter in the February 2012 trade, adding a proven scorer to a struggling offense.
The Kings' defense was amongst the best in the league in 2011-12, ranking second in the NHL allowing just 2.07 goals per game, but ranked just 29th out of 30 NHL teams in offense, scoring a measely 2.29 goals per game.
The addition of Carter to the lineup certainly provided a boost to the Kings' lowly offense. Following his arrival, the offense began to produce at a higher rate toward the end of last season and into the playoffs, and the Kings went on to win the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history.
Johnson also seemed to benefit from the trade, immediately becoming a focal point of the Blue Jackets defense. The 26-year-old blueliner leads the NHL in ice time through 13 games this season with an average of 28:07 per contest. Kings defenseman, and Johnson's former teammate Drew Doughty is second in the league, averaging 27:38 of ice time per game.
Johnson has 19 points (5 goals, 14 assists) in 34 total games since being traded to Columbus.
The Kings (4-5-2) have struggled in the early going of 2013, but have looked slightly better over their past two games. Kings backup goaltender Jonathan Bernier will make his second consecutive start in Friday's game against the Blue Jackets, after allowing one goal in the Kings' 4-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Monday. Los Angeles signed goalie Jonathan Quick to a 10-year $58 million extension last summer, but the reigning Conn Smythe trophy winner has struggled this season after undergoing a surgical procedure on his back during the off season.
After finishing at the bottom of the NHL last season, Columbus (4-7-2) is at the bottom again with just 10 points through 13 games this year. Despite the poor record, the Blue Jackets are coming off of an impressive win, beating the San Jose Sharks 6-2 on Monday.
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