If the Montreal Canadiens are still clinging to their ever slim chances of making the playoffs, they need a significant winning streak, and soon. They had a chance to keep a two-game run alive at home against the Chicago Blackhawks last night, but they certainly didn’t look like a team that is hoping for late-spring hockey.
One of their own put a big dent in their chances after they went down 2-0, but cut the deficit to one.
Max Domi took an absolutely unnecessary and ridiculous roughing penalty in the second period. It made the score 3-1 for Chicago, and regardless of whether the refs should have killed the play when Charlie Lindgren lost his blocker, Domi has to wear that goal. I don’t know why the play was allowed to continue, but if the Habs aren’t shorthanded in the first place, it probably never comes to that.
There was no need to do what he did, so he deserved a temporary relegation to the role of grocery stick. I do, however, take issue with Claude Julien’s decision to keep him benched and ice the likes of Jordan Weal and Nick Cousins on the late-second power play.
I think Claude Julien was right to bench Domi through the end of the period. Unacceptable penalty. But you get a power play and a chance to get within one before the third, why not walk over to him and say, 'You cost us one, now go get it back for us.'— Eric Engels (@EricEngels) January 16, 2020
That was a perfect chance for Domi to redeem himself. Domi is not a toddler that needs to be held to a strict timeout period before you let him loose, he’s a grown man. That was a critical moment, and Julien kept one of his best players on the bench to teach him a lesson.
Gerard Gallant just got fired yesterday, from a Golden Knights team that is within striking distance of first place in their division. I’m not advocating for Julien’s dismissal — because I don’t think it changes much in Montreal right now — but it stands to reason that he must be feeling some kind of heat. Therefore, I struggle to understand why he would keep one of his biggest threats on the bench during a potentially game-altering opportunity.
Julien has the unenviable task of trying to ice a winning team despite having several key players on the shelf due to injury. I agree that Domi needed to sit for what he did, but I’m baffled as to why you keep him on the pine when you have a distinct lack of firepower up front. He shot himself in the foot as he stubbornly held on to the benching through a key moment.
But I digress. Domi made a temperamental decision that cost the team. His punishment may or may not have cost them a chance to fix it, and they ended up losing a seemingly winnable game. It’s either one for the tanking effort, or a missed opportunity, depending on your stance when it comes to what the Habs should be striving for at this point.
And zero rest before the next one, as the Habs will be back on the ice tonight against the Flyers. I’ll be interested to see if Domi’s punishment extends into this game.