The Canadiens came through.
Buoyed by the emotional tide that rose through a poignant pre-game ceremony, the Habs played a dominant 60 minutes, using their new and improved lineup to destroy the Canucks. Of course, Montreal also had the advantage of playing an opponent in the final leg of a challenging and lengthy road trip. After debilitating losses to the Leafs and Senators, the Canucks were vulnerable.
Fortunately, and surprisingly for the Habs, they may be playing another such opponent this evening.
How to Watch
Start time: 7:30 PM ET
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Tale of the Tape
|50.5||Fenwick % (Within 1)||48.3|
|1.08||5v5 Goal Ratio||1.29|
Know Your Enemy
The Tale of the Tape contains one stunning revelation: the Kings are being out-possessed by their opponents. Since the acquisition of Jeff Carter, the Kings have been one of the league's powerhouses, consistently contending for the top of the standings in both Corsi and their conference. This year's been a little different.
The bottom six forwards have struggled, depriving Darryl Sutter of the depth he is usually able to rely on. One of their foremost scoring threats, Marian Gaborik, has been in and out of the lineup. And while another key cog has been playing, Anze Kopitar hasn't exactly made his presence felt.
In 82 games last season, Kopitar scored 20 even strength goals, tying him for 25th in the NHL. Through 25 this year, he has only 2, putting him just behind Boston playoff hero Matt Fraser, Toronto Maple Leaf defender Roman Polak, and Dutch Gretzky himself, in the even strength scoring race. Despite the poor production received from one of their elite players, however, the Kings are still scoring more than they did last year. Their real problem is in their own zone.
The 2014-15 Kings are allowing eight more attempts against per sixty minutes of play than their 2013-14 counterparts. One big loss is that of Slava Voynov, who has missed most of the season after being implicated in a domestic violence incident. It's not just the loss of one top four defenceman though; the Kings are up letting more pucks get to Jonathan Quick across the board.
In fact, if it weren't for Quick's .931 save percentage on the season, his squad may be in a much more difficult position that their current 9th place standing. It all adds up to games like L.A.'s 1-0 loss to Buffalo on Tuesday, and leaves the team looking for answers.
The Kings are a team that should be elite, but instead rely on a single line and a goaltender willing to bail them out. The Canadiens should be familiar with that formula, but if their last game is any indication, they may be well-positioned to take advantage of another team trying to use their typical game plan.
Last Time Out
The Kings that took on the Habs last time were a whole different squad. They suffocated Montreal, allowing 25 shot attempts only a single pinball goal. In the end, their two goals were enough to stand up for the win, but if not for a few Peter Budaj saves at critical junctures, it could have been worse.
Tonight should be different. This year's Kings team hasn't been the team we've come to fear over the last few seasons, and with the Habs playing Carey Price and rolling four strong lines, they should make for much stronger opposition.
The Habs proved their character with a gutsy, dominating win over Vancouver on Tuesday night. Now, with the eyes on the hockey world turned back to business as usual, the Canadiens will have to find a way to manufacture a similar performance.