Forward lines and defense pairings:
Pacioretty- Plekanec – Gallagher
Galchenyuk – McCarron – Eller
Mitchell – Danault – Byron
Matteau – De la Rose – Brown
Emelin – Pateryn
Ellis – Barberio
Scratches: Victor Bartley, Lucas Lessio, Sven Andrighetto
Injured reserve: Carey Price, Daniel Carr, Brian Flynn, Jeff Petry, David Desharnais, Tom Gilbert, Nathan Beaulieu
The score flattered the Canadiens. It was not reflective of the level of play or where the two teams are in the standings. The Kings got up to a two-goal lead just 3:33 into the game and may have started looking ahead to Saturday’s showdown with the Anaheim Ducks.
With the Canadiens offense already struggling this season, the Kings impressive defensive play had little difficulty stifling them. Montreal had just 15 shots on goal in the game. The visitors were shutdown completely in the third period managing only two shots.
Max Pacioretty described the Kings this way, “I can’t remember a time when I had the puck and didn’t get hit. They’re a great team.”
Post-game, the Montreal media were twisting themselves (and the facts) into knots to change the narrative into one of filled with only glowing words for P.K. Subban of which even KCNA would be proud. The North Korean Central News Agency has often raised an eyebrow or two for their implausible ‘reports’ (perhaps better described as fairy-tales.)
It was a bit of a mixed bag for P.K. Subban on Thursday night as he had a goal and an assist in more than 28 minutes of icetime but had a Corsi for of just 37.5 per cent and was committed the turnover that led to the game-winning goal.
The blind cheerleaders in the media trotted out every positive stat for Subban UNRELATED to this game that they could find. And there was the usual silly finger pointing at other players and equipment: Ben Scrivens should have made the save, the skate failed, etc.
The state of Habs goaltending is open for debate but can we not stick to the topic?
Here is the truth: Subban mishandled the puck in the neutral zone with Dwight King pressing him. With Subban losing control, King pokechecked him and was off to the races. On the breakaway, King made a move, opening up Scrivens allowing the L.A. winger to slide the puck between the goaltender’s pads.
Subban made a mistake. A glaring one. And it led to the winning goal. That does not make him a terrible player nor the cause of a disappointing season. But neither should P.K. be immune from critique.
Not wanting to ignite a week-long debate, Michel Therrien took the safe route blaming the gaffe on Subban losing an edge. Not true, but it was easier that way.
It was a game that Therrien decided to dial back on youth. Morgan Ellis, Michael McCarron and Stefan Matteau were all around the 10 minute mark in icetime. McCarron was dropped to the fourth line as the EGG line was reunited. Apparently, Paul Byron is the new Dale Weise as he was promoted to the top line.
The line blender techniques from the head coach were to no avail as the Kings simply controlled the play.
The Canadiens will be in Winnipeg on Saturday to finish up their western road trip.
▲ Alexei Emelin, Greg Pateryn
▼ Ben Scrivens