Previewing the Los Angeles Kings' 2013-14 season:
Game 31 @ Montreal
December 10, 2013
4pm PST (7pm EST)
After entering December with three-straight wins, the Los Angeles Kings hope to make it four-in-a-row as they travel to La Belle Province to start on a four-game road trip. With both sets of games being on back-to-back nights for the Kings, starting off against a suddenly-resurgent Montreal Canadiens squad certainly doesn’t make things any easier, especially considering the silver-and-black’s lack of success against the Habs in recent years.
If you want to find out when the last time the Kings beat Montreal, you’d have to go back quite a few years. The date was March 8, 2003 when Los Angeles downed Montreal by a 2-1 score at Staples Center with the game-winner scored by none other than Ryan Flinn with Jamie Storr as the winning netminder over (future King) Mathieu Garon. That’s how long ago it was. Three years before the Dean Lombardi era, two years before the shootout and what feels like an eternity before the Kings were in the playoff hunt in February much less being championship contenders. Of course, in all fairness, the Kings and Habs only meet twice a year at the very most and the last time they faced other was on November 24, 2010 when Los Angeles lost 4-1 at the Bell Center. That night also marked the NHL debut of Alec Martinez. That shows just how long ago that game feels much less 2003. But I digress.
While the structure of both teams has changed dramatically over the years, the Canadiens are still a force, as least lately.
At 19-9-3, the Habs have recently taken over top spot in the Atlantic and share the top seed in the East with Pittsburgh. Winners of five-straight, the Canadiens have everything in order as they are determined to make it six-in-a-row against a Los Angeles team they haven’t loss to in over a decade.
There will be enough outlets for the Kings to try and slow down on Tuesday. Defenseman PK Subban leads the club in points with 24 while forward Tomas Plekanec leads the team with 11 goals. Notable mentions are also deserved for Alex Galchenyuk and Andrei Markov who enter Tuesday’s tilt with 20 and 19 points respectively.
To make things a little more interesting, the Kings and Canadiens enter their duel tied for second-overall in goals-against with an average of 2.00 per.
Projected starter for Team Canada in Sochi, netminder Carey Price is having what some are calling a career year for the Habs. In 24 games, Price is 14-8-2 with a 1.95 goals-against average and a .938 save percentage. Of course, the tandem of Ben Scrivens and Martin Jones certainly isn’t inferior to the Montreal backstop, especially with the latter coming off his first-career shutout in just his second-career game. Whichever netminder starts in Montreal for the Kings will certainly match Price wit for wit.
It’s a battle of two exceptional defenses and two solid goaltending cores. But come Tuesday night at the Bell Centre, something will have to give.
Enjoy the game!