Game Day Preview #4, Los Angeles Kings @ Montreal Canadiens
Get ready to sit through another team’s opening night celebration.
HOW TO WATCH
Game Time: 4:30 PM Pacific
TV: Fox Sports West
Radio: iHeart Radio
The Opposition: Eyes on the Prize
Another early game, another home opener for a Canadian team. Montreal knows how to do a ceremony for sure, so expect a somewhat delayed start as the Canadiens celebrate their first game on home ice.
The Kings are looking to turn the page on a lackluster outing in Winnipeg. Contrary to the way we’re used to the Kings losing — outperforming another team but coming up against a hot goalie, bad luck, or both — the team as a whole was vastly outplayed by the entirety of the Jets. Tyler Toffoli, with an even 50% in the Corsi for department, was the highest rated King — he would have been second to last on the Jets. Aside from a late game push from the Kings, they came out on the bottom in pretty much every meaningful stat. The Jets do a good job of preventing teams from getting into the offensive zone, but their performance was masterful against the Kings. Again, we’re only three games into the season and it’s hard to build any meaningful conclusions from one bad game. But be on the lookout to see if they’ve learned any lessons.
John Stevens is looking to create chemistry in his bottom-nine, and has changed around the lines tonight to see what happens. In practice, Adrian Kempe found himself centering Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson. That trio played well together last season, and since Kempe’s still looking to rediscover his scoring touch, teaming him up with Toffoli, one of the team’s better performers so far this season, could help out. Meanwhile, Jaret Anderson-Dolan draws back in, this time being centered by Mike Amadio, with Jeff Carter making a return to the right wing. Carter’s spent limited time at wing over the past few years, largely playing there when Stevens (or Sutter) was loading up the top line. It could be a good match for JAD, who will certainly have more scoring opportunities than he did in his debut. Amadio and Carter also provide two viable options for faceoffs on that line. Austin Wagner looks to be the odd man out tonight.
The Canadiens have been off since Saturday, when they bested the Pittsburgh Penguins by a score of 5-1. The Candiens are no strangers to big changes, shipping out Alex Galchenyuk in exchange for Max Domi this off-season, but perhaps one of the more exciting players to watch is Jesperi Kotkaniemi. The Finnish center was Montreal’s first round draft pick this year and made the jump easily to the NHL. The story with the Canadiens has always been their weakness down the middle, but Kotkaniemi could be the 1C of the future for the team. He’s still waiting to get his first goal (Andrei Svechnikov beat him to being the first 2000-born player to score an NHL goal) but has already shown why the Canadiens took him at #3 in the draft.