The Montreal Canadiens played a strong game Sunday against the Edmonton Oilers, winning the game in overtime. However, the game was a lot closer than it should have been thanks to penalties taken by the Canadiens.
Some were ‘good’ penalties, but some were not, especially Max Domi’s penalty early in the second period on Leon Draisaitl. It was taken in the offensive zone where Montreal had full coverage down the ice. I’ll be honest to say that there were a few soft calls that the Canadiens suffered from as well, but the core of the problem is that the Oliers were kept in the game thanks to their power play.
And in a playoff race where every point will matter, everything will have to be looked at.
Therefore Montreal needs to be smarter in reading the referee and reading the game in order to make sure that they don’t give away free chances for the opponent to stay in the game.
While Jonathan Drouin’s penalty was a valid one to take as Leon Draisaitl would have come alone against Price if he didn’t trip him (I am still surprised about the embellishment call), and the call against Benn was soft, the fact is that Edmonton scored on two of their four power plays.
Special teams will be key in in the run for the playoffs, as well as in the playoffs themselves (should they qualify), and taking less penalties will be very important in order to get those points in the bank. That will mean reading the referees and, as well as to think before you act in response to a situation in the opposing zone.
It was evident on Sunday, staying out of the box will be key going forward but the Canadiens can take solace that they still came away with two points.