Good afternoon from a media bus creeping through downtown Montreal and stickhandling through construction en route to the team hotel. The Kings took the Bell Centre ice at 11:10 local time and aligned thusly:
-No changes are expected to Los Angeles’ lineup. None were really expected – the team has won three consecutive games, the last two by a 12-0 aggregate – but any Habs fans hoping to see former Canadien Tom Gilbert’s return to the Bell Centre might be disappointed. Perhaps consolation may be derived from their team’s 8-0-0 home record and league-best 23 points.
-One Habs alum is expected to face his former teammates on Thursday: Peter Budaj, who has backstopped the team to back-to-back shutouts, left the ice first at the morning skate and should draw the start. This is the front end of a back-to-back, so the #LAKingsGoalieTweetOff applies. Jeff Zatkoff in Ottawa, perhaps?
-Drew Doughty, on the different look that Montreal has on the back end, with Shea Weber in and P.K. Subban out: “They’re different players. P.K.’s more high-risk, he’s going to take some high risks offensively, he’s just a solid player. Shea is going to bring a lot more leadership, he’s going to bring a more physical game, he’s going to bring a more defensive game and then offensively he doesn’t take too many risks, he’s just got that big shot. You’re not going to see him go end to end with the puck too often, he’s just going to make that good first pass and then get up in the offensive zone and take his shot.” Some very interesting Darryl Sutter quotes on the evolution of the Canadiens’ back end will follow.
-One of the best things about covering a game in Montreal is working alongside one of the more direct and knowledgeable media corps. There was another fun Darryl Sutter press conference / interrogation today, which segued into a smaller group chatting with the Kings coach and gaining more context on the team’s performance and identity. It’s all very interesting; quotes will follow.
-As for the Habs, several lineup changes are expected. Forward David Desharnais and Defenseman Greg Pateryn (who is a regular participant at late-summer Toyota Sports Center skates) will be scratched, per Michel Therrien, with forward Sven Andrighetto and defenseman Joel Hanley drawing in. Forward lines, based on yesterday’s practice, should be Byron-Galchenyuk-Radulov, Andrighetto-Plekanec-Gallagher, Pacioretty-Danault-Shaw and Carr-Mitchell-Flynn. Torrey Mitchell, who I’m told was Devin Setoguchi’s roommate in San Jose, is a fourth line center with five goals. There’s some good north-south skating on Montreal’s fourth line.
-Rogie Vachon, who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Monday, will be honored during a pre-game ceremony. He’s expected to join Gary and Jim during the first intermission of tonight’s FOX Sports West broadcast. GO DOWNLOAD THE FOX SPORTS GO APP.
-Lots more to come, Insiders. Darryl Sutter quotes will be up next, after a trip around the corner for a quick lunch. Let’s talk soon.