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Ducks @ Canadiens PREVIEW: Les Habitants

The French-speaking part of the road trip is upon us.

NHL: FEB 05 Ducks at Canadiens Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Game 54

Date: Thursday, February 6th, 2020

Time: 4:00 PM PST

Location: Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec

TV: Prime Ticket,

Radio: AM 830

After a victory against the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday, Anaheim continues its annual eastern Canadian road trip this week with a stop in Montreal to take on the Canadiens in the first half of a back-to-back followed by a matchup against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Ducks are running off their best stretch of games since the beginning of the season, winning four of their last six games in an effort to make it look like they’re not tanking. Rickard Rakell and Ondrej Kase have seen their good underlying numbers turn into production lately, with four points in their last six games. Sam Steel also has four points in that time frame, which is an extremely positive sign for the young center after a very rough start to the season.

John Gibson will be back in net for the Ducks tonight with Ryan Miller getting the start tomorrow night in Toronto.

The Montreal Canadiens have had a rough go of it lately, primarily driven by a terrible month of December. At the moment, they sit in fifth in the Atlantic division, seven points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. They’re certainly not out of playoff contention yet, so expect them to be extra motivated tonight.

Tomas Tartar leads the scoring for the Habs over the last six contests with seven points. Perhaps the bigger story, however, is former Los Angeles Kings forward Ilya Kovalchuk has suddenly found a scoring touch again, freed from some of the pressure of his previous large contract and now playing on a sub-$1 million deal.

A notable absence tonight will be Habs captain Shea Weber. The veteran defenseman has been in the middle of a renaissance season and has been in the Norris Trophy conversation before blocking a shot Tuesday night that saw him limp off the ice and exit the game. Montreal announced earlier today that Weber would go onto IR with a lower body injury and miss a minimum of one week.

Carey Price is expected to be in net tonight. The Ducks have been one of the few teams that has had a lot of success against the former Hart Trophy winner, handing him an .895 save percentage over 12 career games.

Players To Watch

Ondrej Kase: The Czech forward’s underlying numbers have always been good, hence his status as a perpetual analytics darling. This season, he has suffered from a low shooting percentage, but with four points including two goals in his last six games to go along with plenty of scoring chances, Kase might finally be back to normal. He’s been the main play driver on the Max Jones - Sam Steel line, and both players have benefitted from his play.

Ilya Kovalchuk: The Ducks have a little familiarity with Kovalchuk during his ill-fated stint with the Kings. It seems as though he’s found new confidence in Montreal, however. He may not be the Kovalchuk of the Atlanta Thrashers/New Jersey Devils days, but he’s shown that he can still hit the back of the net in the right situations.