A month ago, the Canadiens were so far atop the Atlantic Division standings, it was hard to see how any team could catch them. Now, the Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings and even the Ottawa Senators are within a few wins of taking over first in the Atlantic, with the Habs losing six of their past eight games.
It won't get any easier.
The Habs play their last game at home tonight until January 6. The Canadiens will play the next eight games on the road, including the special New Year's Day rendez-vous at Gillette Stadium with the Boston Bruins. The Habs will leave from Montreal tonight and head to Dallas for a game Saturday night, then will travel to Nashville for a game Monday, and leave immediately afterward for a Tuesday match-up in Minnesota.
The next four games, including tonight's showdown with the Los Angeles Kings, are very important before the team breaks briefly for Christmas. The Habs could very well see their place atop the Atlantic Division dissolve by then.
Although the Canadiens have been giving their best effort over this stretch of games, producing a ton of shots and maintaining the advantage in possession for the most part, the Habs have only scored more than two goals in a game twice in the past eight (and both of those games were wins).
Without Carey Price to keep the opponent limited to two goals, the Habs need at least three to win. Expecting one of Dustin Tokarski or Mike Condon (who gets the start tonight) to allow no fewer than two goals a game is a tall order otherwise.
Check out Dave's game preview for a great analysis of what the Habs are up against tonight.The Kings are one of the hottest team in the league at the moment, and boast a lineup with some of the best individual possession numbers in the NHL. The Habs (and Dale Weise) will get to reacquaint themselves with Milan Lucic tonight, who after a slow start has proven to be a solid addition to the Kings' roster, with 10 goals and 10 assists, and some very good 5 v 5 numbers including a 17 percent shooting percentage and 1.83 points/60 minutes.
Some notable changes to the lines are below, including on defense where Nathan Beaulieu will line up alongside P.K. subban on the top defensive pair after being scratched two games prior.
The puck drops at 7:30 PM EST.
How To Watch:
In Canada (French): RDS
In Canada (English): City Montreal
In the Kings' region: FS-W
Elsewhere: NBCSN, NHL GameCenter, NHL Center Ice
|Max Pacioretty||Tomas Plekanec||Paul Byron|
|Lars Eller||Alex Galchenyuk||Sven Andrighetto|
|Tomas Fleischmann||David Desharnais||Dake Weise|
|Daniel Carr||Torrey Mitchell||Brian Flynn|
|Nathan Beaulieu||P.K. Subban|
|Alexei Emelin||Jeff Petry|
|Andre Markov||Tom Gilbert|
Scratched: Greg Pateryn, Jarred Tinordi, Charles Hudon
Injuries: Carey Price (lower body) Brendan Gallagher (broken fingers), Devante Smith-Pelly (lower body)
|Milan Lucic||Anze Kopitar||Marian Gaborik|
|Michael Mersch||Jeff Carter||Tyler Toffoli|
|Tanner Pearson||Nick Shore||Dustin Brown|
|Andy Andreoff||Jordan Weal||Jordan Nolan|
|Brayden McNabb||Drew Doughty|
|Jake Muzzin||Alec Martinez|
|Christian Ehrhoff||Jamie McBain|
Scratched: Derek Forbort
Injuries: Kyle Clifford (lower body), Trevor Lewis (upper body), Matt Greene (shoulder), Dwight King (foot)
Check out the enemy over at Jewels From the Crown.