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Canadiens vs Kings game preview

Can the Canadiens beat the Kings again, or was their high-scoring December victory a mirage?

Harry How/Getty Images

The California road trip has never been kind to the Habs, and this year is no different. After a terrible effort against the Sharks, Montreal did show more resilience against the Ducks, however they failed to find the back of the net until the dying minutes of the third period.

Much will be made about Jiri Sekac's strong play, notably his assist on the second goal of the game, but truth be told, the Habs shouldn't be feeling seller's remorse due to one game, even if it would make for a very easy narrative to exploit.

With only one goal in the last 120 minutes, it's becoming clear that the Habs scoring woes are still a major concern, which has sent coach Michel Therrien into a frenzy of line-mixing action. Whether or not we see the same lines tonight remains to be seen, but if history has taught us anything, we should probably be expecting a brand new configuration against the Kings.

Seeing as how Alex Galchenyuk scored against the Ducks, don't be surprised if he finds himself on the first line to start the game. Once the puck drops, all bets are off.

How to Watch

Start time: 10:30 PM ET
In the Canadiens region (French): RDS
In the Canadiens region (English): Sportsnet East
In the Kings region: FS-W
Elsewhere: NHL GameCenter, NHL Center Ice

Tale of the Tape

All stats are from before last night's game.

Canadiens Statistic Kings
41-17-5 Record 30-21-12
6-2-2 L10 Record 7-3-0
49.0 Score-Adjusted Fenwick % 53.5
171 Goals For 171
139
Goals Against 164
1.22 5v5 Goal Ratio 1.15
16.5 PP% 17.6
85.2 PK% 80.3

Know Your Enemy

The Los Angeles Kings last encounter with the Habs came near the beginning of a long stretch of improved play. When we last saw the Kings, they were being out-possessed by their opponents, a stunning departure from their typical dominance with the puck.

At their worst, the Kings were allowing 45 unblocked shot attempts against per sixty minutes, which placed them in the territory occupied by the Colorado Avalanche and Toronto Maple Leafs. Darryl Sutter's crew managed to pare that down by a full ten shots at one point, and while their numbers have started to float back up a little, they still find themselves a top five team when it comes to shot suppression.

Coincidentally, the Kings are also a top five team when it comes to generating shots, and their trade deadline acquisition should only further those efforts. Like Marc Bergevin, Dean Lombardi acquired an impact player without parting with a player from his current roster. Though the price was steep, at a first round pick and a second round prospect, Andrej Sekera generates shots and points at a first pairing level.  He supplies the type of high-end skill from the back-end that was largely absent from the Kings D, besides the pair of Jake Muzzin and Drew Doughty.

The Kings have almost made an important addition by subtraction, sending veteran centre Mike Richards to Manchester. For the past three years, Richards has played at a fourth line level with a first line cap hit, making it just a matter of time before action had to be taken. The Kings fourth line will continue to be a weak point tonight, but at least it will be a less expensive one.

Last Time Out

The Kings may have been just emerging from their early season slump last time out, but there was still an air of danger surrounding a game with Los Angeles. The Kings had a rough start to their year, but given their recent dominance of the Canadiens, tempered optimism was still the order of the day.

That same sentiment persists today. The Kings overran the Habs last game, putting up gaudy shot attempt numbers, but it was Montreal that came away with all the goals. P.K. Subban and Andrei Markov combined to put the Canadiens up 3-0, and the Habs would get three more before the night was out. Combined with some strong work from Carey Price, including an absolute robbery on a one-timed shot off the stick of Muzzin, the Habs wound up with a 6-2 victory.

Montreal may be hard-pressed to repeat that result.The Kings have grown more dangerous since they last played the Canadiens, and in the thick of a competitive playoff race, they should be highly motivated to beat the likely weary Habs. T

The Canadiens set out last night to forget a painful memory. Tonight, however, they may be destined to relive one.