All three defensive pairs will change. Alec Martinez
, called up from Manchester of the AHL on Tuesday, will go into the lineup and pair with Drew Doughty
. Jack Johnson and Rob Scuderi
will pair together, as they did at the start of the season, and Davis Drewiske
and Matt Greene
Peter Harrold, who had played the previous three games on defense, will move to forward -- as he did often last season -- and play as the fourth-line right winger alongside center Trevor Lewis
and left winger Brad Richardson
. The other lines are expected to remain the same.
``I want to keep Harry going,'' coach Terry Murray said. ``He's a guy who brings a lot of energy, and he has made the adjustment pretty easily in the past and been a pretty good right winger when we've played him there. So he will get that look tonight.
``Martinez, we called him up for a reason. He's the top scorer on Manchester, in the AHL, playing well on the power play, shooting the puck, getting some results on the power play. Certainly that's what we need, is to get that part of the game going on a consistent basis. Hopefully he can be a catalyst to get that turned around tonight.''
Martinez will also go onto the second power-play unit, replacing Jarret Stoll
on one of the points.
The Doughty-Martinez pairing will be key for the Kings. The previous pairing of Greene and Johnson struggled of late, so the Kings will look to limit Greene's ice time a bit and also give Johnson more support by pairing him with Scuderi, a stable, stay-at-home veteran.
``It goes back to where it was at the start of the year,'' Murray said. ``Jack had a real good start. I think, in the last three or four games, there's been some minuses piled on that we'd like to put a stop to. Scuderi has been playing real solid. He's been our anchor back there on the blue line, on the defending part of the game, and I think it will take a little bit of the pressure off in certain situations.''
Martinez led the Monarchs with 11 assists and 16 points at the time of his call-up. He played four games with the Kings last season, including one as Doughty's partner, but Doughty said he and Martinez will talk before the game to make sure they're on the same page, in terms of responsibility.
``It's kind of tough,'' Doughty said. ``We only played one game together, or whatever it was, so it's pretty tough to remember what our tendencies are, and stuff like that, but there's no complaining. It's part of hockey. We've got to get used to playing together as quick as we can. We only had a 20-minute skate, so there wasn't a lot of time, but there's no doubt in my mind that tonight we'll be a good D pairing out there.''
Harrold has long been known as the Kings' ``utility'' player, often filling in at forward during games and practices at a moment's notice. Harrold was informed this morning that he would be playing forward tonight, but he said the instincts are still there.
``It's a different mindset,'' Harrold said. ``You have to make sure you're in the right position on breakouts, in the neutral zone and the offensive zone. I think most of the guys on the team know both positions just from watching, knowing where the other guys are going to be, so it's not too big of a transition.''
As of Wednesday morning, Jonathan Bernier
's guest-pass total had climbed north of 70.
Bernier, a native of nearby Laval, will make his first professional start in Montreal tonight and will hope for some better fortune after taking the loss in four of his first six starts this season.
``He's real excited about it. He's been playing pretty good, and I'm hoping that he can give us an `A' game tonight,'' Murray said. ``We've got to do a better job in front of him, when it comes down to it, and be able to finish off games when we have a one-goal lead going into the third period.
``We've had breakdowns in front of our goaltenders recently that put a lot of pressure on them to make a great save. We just want them to make good saves. We want to play solid in front of him, and he will give us the performance that we need if we do the right things in front.''IN SEARCH OF POWER
The Kings will also tweak their power-play unit a bit by putting Martinez at the point on the second unit in place of Jarret Stoll
. Martinez had four power-play goals in 20 games with Manchester.
Montreal will present a significant challenge. The Canadiens enter the game with the league's best penalty-kill percentage, while the Kings are 24th on the power play, having scored one power-play goal in their last 17 chances.
``We feel we've been moving the puck pretty well (on the power play),'' Murray said. ``We have recovered pucks the way we would like to see it, in recent games. We still have to get more to the net. We're not shooting enough from the blue-line group. To me, whenever power plays are not going well, that's where it has to start. Hopefully it starts tonight.''FINISH STRONG
Third-period play was one of the Kings' clear and consistent strengths last season, but it has gotten away from them of late. In their last five games -- four of which have been losses -- the Kings have been outscored 10-2 in the third period.
The Kings have also shown a recent tendency to give up leads in the second half of games, something they were solid at preventing last season.
``You've got to execute the right way,'' Murray said. ``You watch the game, behind the bench, and review it again the next day, and you're just seeing breakdowns in structure and system. That's where you really have to think the game, put the breaks on in some situations, slow down and stay available to each other.''