Previewing the Los Angeles Kings' 2013-14 season:
Game 63 vs. Montreal
March 3, 2014
7:30pm PST (10:30pm EST)
The last time they faced them, the Los Angeles Kings celebrated their most lopsided win of the season. Back on December, the Kings embarrassed the Montreal Canadiens by a 6-0 score at the Bell Centre. March 3, while it's unlikely to see a repeat drubbing, the Kings will look to sweep their season series with the Habs, ending their homestand on a high note.
But the Montreal Canadiens begin their road trip with a great deal of momentum. They are 7-1-2 in their last 10. Winners of their last two (most recently a back-and-forth OT win over Toronto on Saturday), the Habs are right in thick of the race to the top of the Eastern Conference standings. With 75 points, they sit second in the Atlantic six points behind the Boston Bruins.
What was initially slated as a rematch in goal from the Sochi semi-final between Canada and the United States will not be. Instead, Montreal netminder Carey Price, who helped Canada win gold in Russia, continues to nurse a leg injury. It is believed that Peter Budaj will get the start instead. With that, there will be another Sochi rematch in goal as Budaj suited up for Slovakia last month.
If Los Angeles hopes to extend their winning streak to five games, they will need to find a way to contain Max Pacioretty who has three goals and an assist in his last two outings. Perhaps playing with Pacioretty in Sochi has given goaltender Jonathan Quick an edge over the Habs forward and former US teammate. Maybe Dustin Brown even picked something up as well.
But the Canadiens's recent success doesn't end with Pacioretty.
Defenseman Andrei Markov is currently riding a five-game point streak as he notched seven assists over that stretch. It is notable to point out that en route to Team USA's controversial win over Russia a few weekends ago, the host nation opened the scoring thanks to a Pavel Datsyuk goal set up beautifully by none other than Markov himself. It will be up to the Kings to make sure something like this isn't repeated.
As for the Kings, they hope their recent streakers can continue their respective successes. Justin Williams has two goals and two assists in his last three while Dustin Brown is currently riding a three-game point streak. Even Mike Richards, who scored just his second goal in 37 games on Saturday, is starting to show signs of life once again.
Los Angeles is 34-22-6 on the season while Montreal is 34-21-7. Los Angeles is 18-10-3 on home ice (16-12-3 on the road) whereas Montreal is 16-11-2 on the road (18-10-5 on home ice). The numbers are almost too identical. In addition, the Kings's 2.32 goals per game is just below the 2.50 of the Canadiens. Same goes for their 2.08 goals-against per to Montreal's 2.40.
Looking at those numbers makes it seem like one team is looking at the other through a mirror. Okay, not quite but on Monday night, we'll see which team outlasts who and extends their winning streak.
In their last game before Wednesday's trade deadline, the Kings will vie for another pair of points.
Enjoy the game!