How to watch
Start time: 7:00 PM EST / 4:00 PM PST
In Canada: Sportsnet East, CITY-TV (English), TVA Sports 2 (French)
In the Kings region: FOX Sports West
Streaming: NHL.tv / NHL Live
On Thursday night, the Canadiens played a fairly even fourteen minutes of hockey before a Philippe Myers point shot found the back of the net. The Habs’ response to going down 1-0 was to effectively roll over and play dead, allowing the Flyers to move from a -4 shot attempt differential to a peak of +27 in the span of the following fifteen minutes of game time. When Ben Chiarot pounced on a puck in the slot to make it 2-1, that was only the Canadiens’ sixth attempt at the Flyers net since the Myers marker.
Fortunately for the Canadiens, and perhaps appropriate given that Michel Therrien was in the building, Carey Price turned in a vintage Price performance. Two nights after being bailed out by his teammates and Tuukka Rask, Price returned the favour, making 40 saves — including a penalty shot — and allowing his team to claw their way back and salvage a point.
Two steps forward, one step back. And so the Canadiens season continues.
Tale of the Tape
|0-2-0||H2H Record (18-19)||2-0-0|
|51.7% (9th)||Corsi-for pct.||52.1% (7th)|
|3.56 (6th)||Goals per game||2.56 (27th)|
|3.19 (21st)||Goals against per game||3.94 (31st)|
|20.0% (15th)||PP%||10.0% (29th)|
|72.5% (28th)||PK%||70.9% (30th)|
The Habs now return to Montreal, having accrued seven points out of a possible ten in their last five games, to face a team that they need to beat in order to keep pace in a very crowded Atlantic Division. The L.A Kings are a far cry from the efficient juggernaut of a few years ago. Sitting last in the Pacific Division with a 5-10-1 record, the narrative surrounding the team now largely centres on who will be traded by season’s end.
Interestingly, for a team that has always had trouble scoring goals, the Kings offence is not their primary problem. Anze Kopitar has rebounded from an off year with 15 points in 16 games, Drew Doughty has 10, and even Ilya Kovalchuk — essentially a forgotten man last year — has nine points through the first part of the season. The Kings are now plagued by weakness where there was once only strength, and a bottom-three ranked 63 goals against shows how far they’ve fallen.
Much of the blame for this lies at the feet of the goaltenders. Jonathan Quick, still contracted to the team for three more seasons beyond this one, sits with a ghastly .859 save percentage and 4.40 goals against average. His -13.45 goals saved above average is 62nd and dead last in the league among eligible netminders. Ostensible backup Jack Campbell, at .886 and 3.11, is faring little better.
The Kings come to Montreal having dropped decisions to the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators, and as losers of six of their last seven games. In response, head coach Todd McLellan has elected to lean even more heavily on his veterans. Anze Kopitar played 25 minutes against Ottawa (although an early injury to Trevor Lewis was a contributing factor), while Doughty has played 28 minutes in both games on their Canadian road trip.
The Kings have represented a “should win” match-up for the Canadiens for at least a full season now, and yet, these same Kings were the only team from which the Habs could not extract at least a point during the first two weeks of last season. On Saturday night, in front of a national audience, it will be the Canadiens with better depth and better goaltending. It will be the Canadiens who have demonstrated against the St. Louis Blues that they can beat size. But will it be the Canadiens who emerge with two points?