Losers of two straight in the state of California are the Montreal Canadiens, who will take to the ice in Los Angeles on Sunday afternoon to try and salvage what remains of this west coast road trip as they take on the Kings.
Before getting ahead of ourselves, it’s important to remember where the Habs sit in the standings. That is, atop the Atlantic Division and just a point out of first in the league with games in hand. Still, the club’s performance away from home ice this season has been decidedly poor, which is somewhat concerning.
Luckily, the Habs have been strong enough at the Bell Centre to give themselves some leeway on the road. And of course, these past two road games have each been lost by just a single goal.
At some point, the Habs’ fortunes will need to turn around if they are to remain one of the top teams in the National Hockey League. Unfortunate, though, is that the team they’ll try to do it against has won six of their last seven outings.
How to watch
Puck drop: 3:00 PM EST / 12:00 PM PST
In Canada: Sportsnet East (English), RDS (French)
In the United States: FS-W
Elsewhere: NHL.tv/NHL Gamecenter Live, NHL Center Ice
Tale of the Tape
|50.84||Score-Adjusted Corsi %||53.58|
|1.37||5v5 Goal Ratio||1.13|
The Los Angeles Kings have been one of hockey’s hottest teams over the past few weeks, and though a 4-1 loss to the Canadiens is still in memory, the Kings and Habs have since been trending in slightly different directions. Still in a wildcard spot, a win on Sunday afternoon could see the Kings move past the Edmonton Oilers for third in the Pacific Division.
Jeff Carter has been running the show offensively in L.A. this season, leading the team in goals with ten and assists with nine. Having been held without a point in each of the past two games, Carter seems to be due, and will undoubtedly put a great deal of pressure on the Canadiens’ defence.
The Kings must be very thankful for Carter’s play considering captain Anze Kopitar hasn’t quite looked himself offensively this season.
Kopitar did miss five games with an injury in November, but the Slovenian’s production on a per-game basis this season is only about two-thirds of his career average. He did record two assists against the Coyotes on Thursday, however, potentially kick-starting his production.
With Jonathan Quick still on the shelf, former Habs backup Peter Budaj is the projected starter for the Kings. The veteran has performed admirably since being called up from the Ontario Reign, and though a .912 SV% isn’t outstanding, with a team as defensively stingy as the Kings in front of him, Budaj has performed well enough to keep his team competitive.
Just two games remain in the Habs five-game road trip, as they will travel to St. Louis following Sunday’s matinee. That leaves time for the Habs to close it out having won a majority of the available points, but it surely will not be easy.