The Leafs managed to cling on to what little hope they have left by defeating the Canadiens last night 5-3 in a penalty riddled “game”.
I’m not sure but I’d wager that during or after the Olympic Break there was a memo from the NHL’s Head of Officiating to all the referees making sure they “enforce” and call the game with strict attention to the ‘new’ rules right down the stretch run and into the playoffs. Trying to send a message and maintain the integrity of the new anti-obstruction rules is not a bad idea but when it turns into a game like yesterdays and like in Philly the night prior, it doesn’t work.
Regardless if the Leafs or Habs won, there were several terrible penalties called on both teams. Penalty calls took over and turned the game into an ugly mess to watch. The Habs were far more undisciplined and the end result is what they deserved. Even the worst teams in the NHL have a chance to win if they play with the man-advantage the majority of the time.
The beginning of the game almost felt like a playoff atmosphere until the penalty parade stole the show. It would have been great to put the hurt on the Leafs but the Canadiens are still having a succesful road trip. Fatigue looked like it caught up to the Canadiens and Cristobal Huet in particular. It may be a good time to start Yann Danis against Boston and let Huet relax for a couple days.
Chris Higgins put up another goal and got a skate blade to the face for his efforts. Hopefully it’s nothing serious but it was a scary moment to see. Oh ya, no penalty on the cross check.
They’re all big games this time of year but with Boston still banging on the door there is more on the line obviously. Will the Bruins and Habs have the same roster by the time the puck drops? The Trade Deadline is a little more than 24 hours away and the Eastern Conference is closer than ever. The top spots are up for grabs and the teams ranked 6th-12th all have legitimate chances to reach the post-season. One smart trade might make the extra difference for a team on the bubble.
Whatever Montreal does or doesn’t do, if they don’t continue winning they’ll be criticized heavily. This team should get into the playoffs as is but who couldn’t use a little extra help? It’s up to Bob Gainey now.