Preview: Montreal Canadiens (16-6-2) @ Los Angeles Kings (13-10-1)
How to Watch and What to Watch For
Wake up, Carey Price is coming.
Okay, also the rest of the Canadiens, but, let’s be real: Carey Price, y’all.
He’s more than proven already that he can steal games, so no matter who’s slumping in their forward ranks, when you’ve got potentially the best goaltender in the world in net, it’s not going to matter.
The Canadiens have sat at the top of the league for much of the season, only recently pushed down to third, behind the Rangers and the Blackhawks (albeit only by one point). The Canadiens have cooled off after a hot start, losing their last two games, and five of their last ten (they’re 4-5-1). Their struggles up front are well documented. They’ve finally gotten Alex Galchenyuk installed in the first line center spot that he belongs in -- he unsurprisingly leads the team in points -- only to see captain Max Pacioretty struggle. The Canadiens 2015-16 points leader only has five goals on the season so far (four at even strength) and can’t seem to click with any of his linemates.
For the home team, Marian Gaborik will resume his spot on the top line. He’s looked better with each game he’s played and led the Kings with six shots on goal against the Coyotes. He’s yet to be rewarded with a goal, but he’s been awful close, so hopefully playing back in his usual first line spot will help get him going.
There have been a few other lineup changes, though they may not affect the on-ice product just yet. Teddy Purcell was waived and has gone unclaimed, so he will likely report to Ontario. He’s been a healthy scratch lately, and never seemed to win over Darryl Sutter, so it doesn’t change much of the on-ice product. Purcell being waived creates a spot to activate Andy Andreoff, who’s been out since late October with a thumb injury. Dwight King didn’t practice with the team for undisclosed reasons, but no one seems to think he’ll be out today, so he could potentially slot in on the third line in place of Devin Setoguchi, who was a healthy scratch against the Coyotes.
The Kings played one of their worst games this season against the Canadiens. While some of the shine has come off of Montreal, Carey Price should be the Kings’ concern this afternoon. The Kings have never been a high-offense team, which means that they’re going to have to break through Price’s brick wall more than just once to ensure a win.
Projected Line Combinations
Los Angeles Kings
Gaborik - Kopitar - Lewis
Pearson - Carter - Toffoli
Brown - Dowd - Setoguchi
Clifford - Shore - Nolan
Forbort - Doughty
Muzzin - Martinez
Gravel - Greene
Radulov - Galchenyuk - Byron
Pacioretty - Plekanec - Gallagher
Lehkonen - Desharnais - Shaw
Danault - Mitchell - Flynn
Emelin - Weber
Markov - Petry
Barberio - Pateryn
Opposing Preview: Eyes on the Prize