Habs lineup versus the Kings: Claude Julien experiments with his forward lines

Nick Suzuki returns to centre, while Jesperi Kotkaniemi remains out

After a game in which the Montreal Canadiens struggled to get things going, relying on their goaltender to bank them a point, Claude Julien has shaken up the lineup he initially stuck with after a key win versus the Boston Bruins. All four forward lines are affected in the shakeup.

The Los Angeles Kings, who currently occupy the 30th spot in the standings, are a good team to experiment against, and Julien has really tinkered with his alignment this morning.

Tomas Tatar, who is still tied for the team lead in points but has had some penalty issues this season, drops from the first line to the third, while Jonathan Drouin (one of the three players at the top with 13 points) takes his position. It’s a move that the team has tried to make work in the past, and now that Drouin is playing more to his capability, the hope is that the winger can find success on the top trio.

Ryan Poehling is no longer centring the third line as he had the past two games. Nick Suzuki takes that role, and has Tatar and Artturi Lehkonen for linemates. The Suzuki-Lehkonen duo did create a goal last Saturday, so perhaps they’ve got something they can develop together.

On defence, Brett Kulak takes Mikey Reilly’s spot, getting back in the lineup for the first time in over two weeks. After going with a beefed-up top pair of Ben Chiarot and Shea Weber versus the Bruins, it will be a second straight game with Victor Mete back on the main duo.

Carey Price gets the start at home on a Saturday night. He will probably be hoping for less work than he had versus the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday.

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