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Canadiens vs. Kings: Game preview, start time, Tale of the Tape, and how to watch

The Habs entertain the Kings after three days off.

Los Angeles Kings v Montreal Canadiens Photo by Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images

Montreal Canadiens vs. Los Angeles Kings

How to watch

Start time: 7:00 PM EST / 4:00 PM PST
In Canada: CITY-TV, Sportsnet East (English), TVA Sports (French)
In the United States: NHL Network
In the Kings region: Bally Sports West

The Montreal Canadiens return home after four games out west with five points in their back pocket. Naturally, they got there in the most exciting way, winning two games that they probably should have lost (Calgary and Seattle) but only managing a single point in two games that they probably should have won (Edmonton and Vancouver).

Hey, it all balances out in the end, right?

The four days between games offers the team a chance to rest, reset, and recuperate a little bit. Good timing too, because the Habs are in the midst of a minor injury crisis. Sean Monahan, David Savard, Jonathan Drouin, Mike Hoffman, and Brendan Gallagher all missed the final game of the road trip against the Seattle Kraken. Gallagher is expected to miss at least another week, Monahan and Savard remained day-to-day through Friday’s practice, while Drouin and Hoffman have been cleared for contact and will be evaluated prior to tonight’s game.

Apart from the points, the Canadiens can also be encouraged by Jake Allen’s play out west. Five consecutive sub-.900-save-percentage starts prior to the road trip had some questioning whether Samuel Montembeault should take the helm as the Habs’ primary netminder. Those concerns were allayed against the Calgary Flames, when Allen stopped 45 out of 46 shots in order to give the Canadiens a 2-1 victory. That was followed up five days later with a 31-out-of-33-save performance against the Kraken. Yes, there was a .773 start against the Edmonton Oilers in between, but what do you expect when the team gives Connor McDavid three separate five-on-three advantages?

The swing out west also saw the continuation of the Nick and Cole Show. Suzuki and Caufield combined for five of the Habs’ 15 goals on the road trip, with the captain now sporting a hilarious 26.9% shooting percentage en route to a projected 91 points over 82 games. No member of the Canadiens has summited the 90-point plateau since 1996, when Pierre Turgeon and Vincent Damphousse managed it. Suzuki, by the way, would be born three years later.

Caufield, not to be outdone, is on pace for 47 goals across 82 games, giving him a real chance to be the Habs first 40-goal man since Damphousse in 1993‑94, or maybe even the Habs’ first 50-goal man since Stephane Richer in 1989‑90 — when Caufield’s father, Paul, was playing for the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point (UWSP).

Tale of the Tape

Canadiens Statistics Kings
Canadiens Statistics Kings
13-11-2 Record 14-11-3
45.6% (26th) Scoring-chances-for % 51.9% (12th)
2.96 (24th) Goals per game 3.31 (13th)
3.54 (23rd) Goals against per game 3.59 (25th)
16.2% (30th) PP% 25.5% (8th)
79.8% (11th) PK% 71.9% (30th)
0-1-1 H2H Record (21-22) 2-0-0

The duo, as well as the rest of the squad, will look to build upon this success as the Los Angeles Kings arrive in Montreal. The Kings are probably best described as a team in flux. On the one hand, the advancing age of core players such as Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty, and Jonathan Quick puts them in a win-now scenario. On the other hand, those three are all that remains from the glory days of the early 2010s, and the Kings’ roster now prominently features the next generation: the likes of Gabe Vilardi, Arthur Kaliyev, Sean Durzi, and Mikey Anderson (not to mention Rasmus Kupari, Quinton Byfield, Brandt Clarke, and others waiting in the wings). Add established veterans just entering their peak years such as Phillip Danault, Kevin Fiala, and Viktor Arvidsson into the mix, and one has a picture of a team that’s trying to come and go at the same time. The end result is a good team, but not necessarily a great one — a team that can make the playoffs but wouldn’t be fancied to do much damage.

Montreal Canadiens fans can probably relate.

The Kings sit with a 14-11-4 record, currently third in the Pacific Division and on pace for 90 points. Offensively, the Kings’ attack is spearheaded by Fiala, who has 30 points on the year and eight in his last five games. He’s backed up by Kopitar and Arvidsson, with 24 and 21 points, respectively.

Looking at the defence corps, Durzi (18 points) is well on his way to a new career high, while Doughty’s renaissance continues with 17 points. Interestingly, the Kings appear to have a clear preference for the right side of the offensive zone, which means Joel Edmundson and Mike Matheson will likely have busy nights.

Unlike Kings teams of old, this year’s group is being held back by its defence. Indeed, the visitors arrive in Montreal on the back of a 5-0 shellacking at the hands of the Toronto Maple Leafs, meaning that they’ve now surrendered a remarkable 40 goals in their last 10 games. Much of the blame for this can probably be placed between the pipes. After a Cinderella season last year, Jonathan Quick appears to have reverted to the league-average-or-worse form that has characterized the bulk of his last five seasons. Cal Peterson, the heir apparent, has fared no better, playing so poorly that he was demoted to the AHL despite needing to clear waivers (which he did).

If the Canadiens are going to beat the Kings, they need to take advantage of L.A.’s Achilles’ heel in the same way that they were recently able to victimize Jacob Markstrom and Martin Jones. The Kings won’t make it easy, playing a solid 200-foot game characterized by good structure and robust physicality. Montreal will have to rely on energy, initiative, and controlled aggression from the get-go to disrupt the Kings’ rhythm and bring the game to their doorstep.