Sorry for the late posting. The HIO gremlins did me in last night.
Just for the sake of argument – and a good argument might be therapeutic after that traumatic Shootout loss in Buffalo – let’s say your Montreal Canadiens miss the playoffs by a point.
That means that when late April rolls around, the Bell Centre will be dark and the team will be losing $4 million in revenue for each playoff game not being played.
Even if the Canadiens were to be swept out of the first round, they would play at least two home games.
Missing out on that by a single point means Ryan White, who is making a prorated $687,500 this season, will cost Geoff Molson $8 million dollars.
Hockey is a team game, and it’s rare you can single out one player as responsible for a loss. But it happens, and it happened in Buffalo.
The Canadiens had this one in the bag. Tomas Plekanec – along with Carey Price, co-MVP of the Canadiens through 10 games – scored his second goal 45 seconds into the third period to give the Canadiens a 4-2 lead. The goal drove a dagger into the hearts of the Sabres, who had seized momentum in the seesaw game with an 18-shot second period.
Less than seven minutes later, with the Canadiens in control and cruising, White shot a harpoon through his teammates, his coach and Canadiens’ fans.
What was White thinking when he pounced on veteran agitator Steve Ott?
Was he thinking at all?
White was back in the lineup after three games as a healthy scratch. He had ensconced himself in Michel Therrien’s doghouse with two minors and a major during a loss in Ottawa. It was not his first night of irrationality.
So what’s to be done with a player who gets into pointless fights and takes brain-dead penalties.
The Canadiens could trade White to Hockey Night in Canada, but P.J. Stock has the spot in perpetuity. Maybe the Team 690?
Maybe I’m being too hard on White, a nice, friendly Western kid who’s unfailingly cooperative with the media. But as surprisingly pleasant as the first part of the season has been, this Montreal Canadiens isn’t good enough to survive indiscipline.
White wasn’t the only Canadien to have an off-night in Buffalo.
Erik Cole looks slow and distracted. Alexei Emelin, for all his big hits, gets confused and out of position. The L’Antichambre gang thinks he should switch sides.
And what was Colby Armstrong doing on the ice when Buffalo tied it up with two ticks left on the clock?
But the team got stellar performances from Plekanec, Rene Bourque, P.K. Subban, Raphael Diaz, Lars Eller, Brandon Prust and, yes, Peter Budaj, who faced more shots than Carey Price has in any game this season.
Brendan Gallagher scored his fourth and Alex Galchenyuk started the Shootout with a beauty. Hey coach, how about more even-strength minutes for the kids?
If you project last season’s results on a 48-game schedule, it should take 54 points to make the playoffs.
The Canadiens need 41 points in their remaining 38 games – 21 of which will be on the road.
If they get only 40 …