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Their Own Worst Enemy

Regular season game #10

When news broke early today that Peter Budaj would be getting the start over Carey Price, Habs fans everywhere had to gird themselves. When they found out that Tim Peel was officiating, they dusted off the old “blame the refs” lament.

Two strikes against, and the puck hadn’t even dropped yet, right? Factor in the predictable old problems of lack of discipline on the road, inability to win faceoffs, and the continued malaise of the Desharnais-Cole-Pacioretty line, and you’ve got five ingredients to explain the loss. In these three things, the Canadiens are a triple dose of ‘Old Faithful’.

We can cast aside the imagined problems of goaltending and crappy, skewed refs and focus on the real issues of discipline, lack of production from the top line, and a team almost totally incompetent on faceoffs. Sure, we can cry foul on the tying goal, but these things tend to balance out over time (see the Senators disallowed goal last weekend). Yes, Budaj could have been a tad better, but Ryan Miller could have been better, too. The so-called first line of Desharnais, Cole and Pacioretty combined to go pointless, +/- -6, and a 4 lowly shots on goal. How much longer can Michel Therrien protect the one-dimensional centerman before having to pair the team’s two strongest wingers with someone like Lars Eller, who has responded very well since his stint on Therrien’s black list? The feisty Ryan White took an inexplicably stupid double minor that cost his team dearly. Up by two goals in the third period, White took the opportunity to “avenge” a clean hit levied by Steve Ott on Brian Gionta. First of all, nobody should have to answer for a clean hit, regardless of who gets hit, or who gives the hit. Second, White just escaped the Coach’s doghouse for not showing proper judgement. You can bet White is going to spent a lot more time in the cold, lonely doghouse from now on. Not good if you’re a fourth line player with a tenuous grasp on an NHL job on the best of days.

The Canadiens managed an important point, but it should have been two points. The reasons why it was just one point rest in the Canadiens room, and not in the vivid imaginations of a fanbase looking to lay blame elsewhere. The best part is, the problems are fixable. Stop with the penalties, practice faceoffs until nausea sets in, and have the stones to take replace Desharnais with somebody who isn’t pushed over by a light breeze.


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