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In Hainsight: Lack of Discipline Leads to Defeat

December 4, 2022, 12:33 PM ET [204 Comments]
Karine Hains
Montreal Canadiens Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Follow me @KarineHains for all updates about the Montreal Canadiens and women's hockey

The Habs absolutely dominated the first frame, only allowing 4 shots on goal in that period and going back to the locker room with a 1-0 lead thanks to a timely power play goal. Considering how many shots they had given in Calgary a couple of nights ago, it was a reassuring sight.
Had they kept on playing that way, they might have been able to get the W last night, but unfortunately, their lack of discipline lead to 3 2-man advantage for Edmonton. Dominating the Oilers at 5 on 5 is one thing, but you cannot give multiple power plays to a team who counts on Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl and hope to be victorious. 10 minutes into the 2nd period, the game had been completely flipped on its head, and Edmonton lead 3-1.

The Canadiens could have given up at that point, but they fought back to get back even before a giveaway lead to another Edmonton goal with 4 seconds to go in the 2nd. Connor McDavid would get his 2nd goal of the game to make it 5-3 late in the 3rd.

In the span of one evening, we saw the best and the worst this Canadiens’ team can do. Their ability to smother the Oilers at 5 on 5 was a joy to see and so was the fact that for once, the power play had 66.7% success rate. However, their lack of discipline and lack in concentration leading to multiple giveaways were both costly and fatal.

While I really like Arber Xhekaj’s gritty game, he’s going to have to be careful, the referees have their eyes on him, and everybody knows it. If Wifi does something, he’s not going to get the benefit of the doubt, much like Brendan Gallagher in the opposing crease early in his career. Last night, it was his tripping penalty which started the chain of unfortunate events which would ultimately cost the Canadiens the game. It was the first of 6 consecutive penalties to the Habs.

That being said, he wasn’t the only sinner, Joel Edmundson really put his team in trouble when he got a 5-minute penalty for boarding along with a game misconduct. Being down to 5 blueliners against a fast and attacking team like Edmonton is as ill-advised as can be.

There were still some positives in this 5-3 defeat though, Kaiden Guhle just keeps impressing. At one stage in the opening period, Connor McDavid looked to be on his way to the net, but Guhle, with the poise of a rugged veteran absolutely man-handled the league’s most dangerous scorer. Even when he makes a mistake, the young blueliner impresses. About midway through the game, he lost his balance in the offensive zone and fell to the ice just as the puck was about to be sent to him deep in the Oilers’ zone. It took him about a fraction of a second to jump right back up and regain control of the puck, maintaining the Canadiens’ pressure on the Edmonton defense.

As for Arber Xhekaj, even though his penalty was costly, he made most people forget all about it when he scored the game-tying goal on the power play. There’s no denying that the kid has got some good decision making on his offensive game. Seeing that there was a llot of traffic in front of Stuart skinner, he elected to throw the puck to the net and scored his 4th of the season, assisted by Juraj Slafkovsky. Slafkovsky saw nearly 15 minutes of ice-time, still riding shotgun with Monahan and Anderson on a much more offensive line. We'll see when the injured players return if he has managed to get himself a permanent assignment with his new linemates. The fact that Brendan Gallagher missed a game in his hometown leads me to believe that he must be pretty banged up.

The Canadiens will be back in action tomorrow night in Vancouver when they take on the Canucks at 10:30 PM. Vancouver has had a tough start this year and they now have to defend themselves without starting goalie Tatcher Demko for at least 6 weeks who was injured on Thursday night, hardly good news for Bruce Boudreau’s men.
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