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Game 11: Habs/Leafs

  • I didn’t actually get to watch all of Thursday’s game against the Sabres. I did get back to the house in time to catch the end of the third period. Ryan White had already taken a penalty to allow the Sabres back into the game – so I won’t comment too much on that, but I did tune in with enough time to see the curious ending to what never should have ended in a Canadiens loss.

    I say that for many reasons. Buffalo had no business being able to send that game to overtime.

    Blame Montreal for starters. Its incredible to me that a guy (Ryan White) who had been benched for two games for taking dumb penalties that have already cost the Canadiens a game, could take another costly penalty with the game on the line. Forget any of the circumstances surrounding the situation – the third period is the time to play your smartest game. White didn’t – and frankly, I’d be surprised to see him play a game any time soon.Blame them also for not simply taking a penalty in order to clear the crease on the game tying goal with 2 seconds left. There is no reason to waive at the puck with your stick. There is no time left on the clock – take your man out! Josh Gorges was the only guy trying to do that. What would it matter if you take a penalty at that point!?

    Secondarily, I should give Buffalo credit for not giving up on a game that they could have easily let slip away. The tenacity that Vanek (what a year he’s having) and Ott showed in particular on the game-tying goal is exactly what you want to see from a team that needs points desperately if they want a shot at the post-season.

    But most importantly – blame the moronic referees who have given Montreal the league’s most goaltender interference penalties – while missing one against them at the most critical juncture of the game. If you didn’t catch the game, I’ve attached the link to the goal here.  The replay shows two players, Steve Ott and Tomas Vanek both interfere with the goalie on the play. Granted there was a loose puck and many bodies clouding the view of the officials, but given how the rule has been applied throughout the league this season – airing on the side of the goaltender, there is simply no way to see this call as consistent. I’m not alone in this assertion.

    Kerry Fraser wrote about this play in his “C’Mon Ref” blog over at TSN. He agrees that the puck was only loose to begin with because Budaj was interfered with by Ott when he crashed the net. At 1:03 in the video linked above, Fraser notes:

    As the Referee was appropriately repositioning himself below the goal line and behind the net Steve Ott backed into Peter Budaj knocking the Habs goalie off the puck and pushing him into the net. The once frozen puck was now exposed and available for Thomas Vanek to get his stick on and push over the line with Referee Peel now in a position behind the net to signal the goal.

    The blown call allowed the game to be sent eventually to a shootout which the Habs subsequently lost – awarding 2 points to the team who benefited from a referee’s mistake and only 1 point to a team 2 seconds away from a victory. You can say that its karma, that Montreal benefited from a call against Ottawa – but my point is ultimately this – why can’t they get it right? If you can review the goal to make sure it went in off of a stick – why in the world can’t you check to see if it was legal all together? Why shouldn’t the booth be able to review all goals scored when there is a goalie interference call? Ottawa got screwed royally on this call. If you’re going to review it anyway – why not actually get the call right? It bothers me that points in a shortened season should be decided by blown calls that by every measure could have been caught at the time by using the tools that are already available to the officiating crew.

    I hope that going forward we don’t see too many more of these types of situations. The Habs have a big game tonight against the Leafs – and are going to be fairly desperate to be able to get back in the win column after a couple of stinging losses during the week.

    Go Habs Go!!

    ~Mats

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