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Game Day - Kings - December 12

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

- The Canadiens held an optional morning skate at the Bell Sports Complex on Friday ahead of their tilt against the Los Angeles Kings at the Bell Centre.

- The Habs are coming off a 3-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks back on Tuesday, while Darryl Sutter’s club downed the Senators 5-3 in Ottawa on Thursday night to snap a two-game losing streak. Los Angeles will be playing the third game of a five-game road trip.

- Thirteen players elected to hit the ice for the duration of the skate, including forwards Tomas Plekanec, Michael Bournival, Jiri Sekac, Sven Andrighetto, Dale Weise, Brendan Gallagher, Alex Galchenyuk, Brandon Prust, Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau, Manny Malhotra and Eric Tangradi. Defenseman Nathan Beaulieu was also present, as was goaltender Dustin Tokarski.

- The Habs aren’t expected to make any lineup changes for Friday night’s game, meaning that head coach Michel Therrien will likely field the same lineup that went up against the Canucks on Tuesday night in Montreal.

- The Kings were anything but kind to the Canadiens last season, winning both matchups between the two clubs by outscoring Michel Therrien’s troops by an 8-1 margin. That included a 6-0 drubbing at the hands of the defending Stanley Cup champions just over a year ago in Montreal. Brendan Gallagher certainly hasn’t forgotten about that loss.

“It’s going to be a challenge. We remember last year when they came in here and things didn’t go so well for us. Hopefully, we can get a better result this year,” mentioned Gallagher, who boasts two goals and three points in his last three games. “We know what they’re all about. They play hard. All throughout their lineup they’re going to finish checks, they’re going to make it tough on us, they’re going to try to grind us down. It’s going to be important for us to try to stick to our game plan and what our strengths are. We’re going to try to use our speed and play on the forecheck in the offensive zone. Hopefully, we can generate offense that way.”

That will be easier said than done against a Kings contingent that ranks third in the league in goals-against per game. Los Angeles, however, has struggled away from the friendly confines of the Staples Center, posting just four road wins thus far this season. Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau insists that while the Kings are a complete team, they aren’t unbeatable.

“They’re very good defensively, they have a good goalie, they play as one team. They haven’t won two Stanley Cup titles as of late for nothing,” mentioned Parenteau. “But, they still have some weaknesses in their game that we can exploit. If we skate and put pressure on them, it won’t be any different than going up against any of the other teams.”

- Alex Galchenyuk put on a brilliant performance on Tuesday night against the Canucks, demonstrating that he was perfectly comfortable playing the center position on a line with Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher. After going head-to-head with the Sedins earlier in the week, Galchenyuk & Co. will likely match up against the likes of Anze Kopitar on Friday night.

“When the game starts, I’m trying to focus on my game and what I can bring to the table to help my team win. I don’t worry about what the players on their team will do,” insisted Galchenyuk, who won 62 percent of his draws on Tuesday night. “When you start to think too much about them, you lose your focus on your own game.”

Gallagher is adamant that Galchenyuk is ready for this next challenge.

“I think he’s excited for it. When you look at the job he did last game, I think he was really excited to play against one of the best players in the world and it’s no different tonight. He did a really good job last game of using his speed, and being above the puck and on the right side of the puck. That created a lot of chances offensively,” praised Gallagher. “That’s really the only way you can play to be successful. He did a really good job last game and I’m confident he’ll do it again.”

- Tuesday’s game was emotional for everyone in attendance at the Bell Centre, especially the players. It should come as no surprise that Michel Therrien’s troops have broached the subject of dedicating the 2014-15 campaign to one of the greatest legends in team history, Mr. Jean Béliveau.

“I think amongst ourselves it’s something we’ve talked about a little bit. We paid a little bit of a tribute to him last game with the energy we had. Just looking up and seeing Mrs. Béliveau sitting there and cheering, and Mr. Béliveau’s sweater sitting on his seat. That’s going to stay there all year, so we can draw some inspiration from that for sure,” explained Gallagher. “He’s a guy who represented this organization better than anyone and set the bar for what the standards are going to be for everyone that gets to put on that jersey. There is certainly some inspiration that we can draw from him. Hopefully, we can use it going forward.”

- Carey Price will make his 25th start of the season for the Canadiens on Friday night. He boasts a 3-1-0 record, a 2.64 goals-against average, and a .910 save percentage in four career outings against the Kings.

- Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on RDS and Sportsnet East.

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