Los Angeles Kings (13-7-0) at Montreal Canadiens (13-7-1) – November 24th,
The Habs host an unfamiliar foe this evening, as the Los Angeles Kings visit
the Bell Centre. Barring a Stanley Cup Final showdown, this will be the
one and only time these two teams will meet this season. The two teams
similarly played just once last year, with the Canadiens winning 4-2 in Los
Angeles. The Canadiens are fresh off a 3-2 Monday night loss to the
Philadelphia Flyers in which their collective lethargy and disinterest blew a
2-0 1st period lead. Likewise, the Kings fell to the Ottawa Senators by
the same score on Monday night in Kanata. Both teams are 6-4-0 in their
last 10 games.
Carey Price (12-7-1, 2.05 GAA, .932 SV%) is the likely starter for Montreal
tonight, after making 41 saves in the losing effort to the Flyers.
Canadiens’ fans can let out a collective groan as yet another Quebec-native will
be setting up in the opposition’s crease. Jonathan Bernier (2-4-0, 3.18
GAA, .891 SV%) will see his first start against Montreal, but has yet to win on
the road this year (0-4-0). Price has won his only start against the Kings, and
possesses a 3.00 goals-against average and .906 save percentage.
Despite going pointless in his last 3 games, Tomas Plekanec (7-13-20)
continues to lead the Canadiens in scoring at a point-per-game pace. Mike
Cammalleri (6-8-14) and Andrei Kostitsyn (7-7-14) are equally cold with only
Cammalleri recording a point over the same span. With the top-line
offensive talent MIA, it has been Jeff Halpern (5-8-13) that has stepped up, and
is currently rolling with a 2-game point streak (1-2-3). Although Justin
Williams (9-12-21) is primarily known to Habs’ fans for his eye-carving
abilities on ex-captain Saku Koivu, he has been quietly leading the Kings in
points. Other notable L.A. scorers include Anze Kopitar (7-13-20), Jarret
Stoll (7-10-17) and Jack Johnson (1-13-14).
Given their almost identical identities stats-wise, it’s not too surprising
that their special teams rank quite closely to one another. Montreal bears
a slight edge on the powerplay (15.2% versus 14.8%) while their penalty killing
ranks 5 spots higher than Los Angeles’ (90.8% versus 86.9%).
Perhaps disappointed by his team’s performance, Jacques Martin employed a
hard-skating practice on Tuesday, and the forward line-ups were as follows:
Kostitsyn – Plekanec – Gionta
Cammalleri – Gomez – Moen
Pyatt – Halpern – Lapierre
Pouliot – Eller – Darche
Andrei Markov (knee) is still out indefinitely, while the Kings are short
Willie Mitchell (wrist), Alexei Ponikarovsky (finger) and Scott Parse (hip).
Look for Yannick Weber and Dustin Boyd to serve as healthy scratches.
Game-time is 7:30 EST and the game can be seen on RDS.
Preview written by Matt Dilworth