Just two days removed from a frustrating loss at the Bell Centre, tonight the Canadiens will once again welcome a team from sunny California to Montreal.
The Los Angeles Kings roll into town as one of the hottest team's in hockey. While their last game was a losing effort to the Ottawa Senators, the Kings have a glowing 7-1-2 record in their last ten games, which has helped them reach the top spot in the Pacific Division.
The Habs, meanwhile, will hope to rebound after a loss that perhaps shouldn't have been. The Habs played pretty well on Tuesday night against the Sharks, recording 27 shots to the opponent's 18. Ultimately they were stymied by Sharks' netminder Martin Jones, but the team could walk away from the game with a bit of confidence in their play, at least.
If the Habs are to come away victorious against the Kings tonight, however, they will need to be a bit more opportunistic with their chances. The Kings have been the league's best possession team at even strength this season, so dictating the flow of play will not prove an easy task.
How to Watch
Tale of the Tape
|53.8||Score-Adjusted Corsi %||57.3|
|1.26||5v5 Goal Ratio||1.00|
Know Your Enemy
The Los Angeles Kings have seen a return to form this season after their somewhat-surprising absence from last year's Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Kings have outplayed teams by a wide margin all season, so tonight promises to be an interesting match-up between two teams who have had success in a similar manner thus far.
The Kings' most lethal line features a familiar face for the Habs: Milan Lucic. Lucic has been a solid producer for the Kings this season, with 10 goals and 20 points; good enough for third on the team. Only his linemates — Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli — have more
This is a line that has been solid all season for Los Angeles, driving possession the majority of the time they're on the ice. With that being said, there aren't that many players on the Kings with poor possession numbers. Still, the team's most potent line is also one with positive relative CF% numbers, so any team hoping to overcome the Kings will need to spend some time shutting that trio down.
Meanwhile, Drew Doughty has been showing that he remains an elite defender in the league as he patrols the Kings' blue line. With 17 points in 30 games, he has been one of the team's top point producers, and has been even better from a possession standpoint with a glowing 60.1% Corsi-for percentage.
The story in goal is a little different. Jonathan Quick has not been as good this season as he's proven capable of being in the past. His .915 SV% ranks 22nd in the NHL among goaltenders who have played 10 or more games. Yet, when you play behind the Kings, you only need to be good enough, and that's what Quick has been this season, with a record of 16-8-1.
While the Kings have dropped points in their last two games, they held a six-game winning streak before an overtime loss to the Buffalo Sabres and their first regulation loss since November 22nd on Monday night in Ottawa. They have the manpower to start such a streak anew, and the Habs will need to be on their game tonight to make sure that they are not the first victims.
Last Time Out
Tonight will be the first meeting in a while between these two clubs, their last dating back to March 5 of this year. That game, much like this one has the potential to be, was a close game that was decided in a shootout.
At least, it looked like a close game. After the Kings took a 2-0 lead in the first period on the strength of goals from Carter and Marian Gaborik, the Habs stormed back in the second frame to tie things up. They weren't done there, though, as Max Pacioretty netted the go-ahead goal in the third.
The Kings, never so easily put away, managed to tie things up once again in the final minute of play when Gaborik put his second of the evening past Dustin Tokarski. The Kings went on to win the game 4-3 in a shootout, on an evening that they probably deserved the victory, out-shooting the Habs 29-18.
Needless to say, the Habs will be looking for a different result this time out as they attempt to get their season back on track. Tonight's game will be of particular importance to the Habs, who will not play on home ice again until January 6th.