Robert Lafleur February 8, 2013 2
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Judging by Montreal fans’ and media’s  reaction to Ryan White’s double-roughing penalty (his second this year) for punching the hated Sabre Steve Ott in the nose, you’d think he’d just assassinated Lincoln…or JFK … or both. THAT, however, was not the reason Montreal lost to the Sabres 5 – 4 in a shootout on Thursday night.

Losing Leads

For the second night in a row, the Canadiens went into the third period with a lead and lost the game. Ryan White’s fault?  Tuesday night against Boston, the Habs went into the third period ahead 1 – 0. Boston proceeded to outshoot Montreal 8 -5, outscore them 2 -0 and skate away with a 2 -1 victory. In Buffalo the very next night, the Sabres outshot Montreal 10 – 5 and outscored them 2 – 1 in the third period. Ryan White’s fault?

Therrien Back to his Old Tricks

Michel Therrien after the game, “I thought it was a good time to get Ryan White back in the lineup. It wasn’t my best decision.” I thought Michel Therrien had learned his lesson about not calling out his players in front of the media, perhaps not. How about questioning Therrien’s decision to play Peter Budaj instead of Carey Price? Budaj, who was getting beat high on the glove-side all night, should have stopped Tyler Ennis on Buffalo’s first goal. How about Therrien’s decision to have Rene Bourque in the shootout instead of Tomas Plekanec, who just happened to score two goals in the game? Bourque has had trouble hitting the net all year, let alone scoring a goal, while Plekanec has been the Habs best forward so far this year.

Ryan White’s Double-Double

Ryan White:  “Obviously it was just a selfish play. I thought he [Ott] went kind of low on me and that’s what he does.  He’s a good player at that, he’s smart at what he does out there and, you know, I just kind of reacted the wrong way again, obviously, and cost my team another two points.” White knows what he did, and obviously feels bad about it, but Steve Ott didn’t make the Sports Illustrated Ten Most Hated NHL Players List for nothing. As SI described Ott, “this guy does his homework to personalize his taunts for maximum impact and is someone who isn’t afraid to deliver a late hit.” Just before Ott tried to take out White at the knees, Ott had been across the ice after captain Brian Gionta. So White takes a couple of shots at Ott and Ott turtles, and now Ryan White is L’Antichambre’s Anti-Christ. That’s White’s game, crash and bang, playing with an edge, protecting your teammates, and I’d rather have White playing like that, taking a couple of penalties now and then, than Lars Eller. That’s really the choice Michel Therrien has to make as soon as Travis Moen is ready to go again. 

 Time to Allow Video Review for Goaltender Interference

It never should have got to a shootout except for referee Tim Peel vying for the Chris Lee award for worst referee in the NHL.

With less than two seconds left in the game and the Habs up 4 -3, a goal-mouth scramble ensued in front of Budaj. Budaj had the puck covered with his pad and Peel should have blown the play dead at that point, there was no possible way he could have seen the puck without X-ray vision. It was reported that Peel was behind the net, but the replay clearly shows he is off to the side, he could not have seen a loose puck at that point. Not only did Peel not blow the play dead, but he allowed Steve Ott, remember him, to stand in the blue paint and push Peter Budaj into the net with his backside. Clearly Peel was allowing contact with a goaltender, Ott was basically sitting on Budaj. Ott then kicked back with his left leg, dislodging the puck, which allowed Tomas Vanek to poke the puck into the net. Even former NHL referee Kerry Fraser said the goal should not have counted, “Prior to video review concluding that the puck had ‘crossed the goal line in legal fashion,’ I was in communication with That’s Hockey2Nite producer Jason Palter advising him as to why the whistle should have blown to stop play on two counts prior to Vanek pushing the puck across the goal line.” The NHL has to start getting it right when it comes to goaltender interference and that’s to allow it to be a reviewble offense.

The Habs will try to shake off these two back-to-back losses as they host the Leafs, who have won two straight, at the Bell Centre Saturday night.