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In the Habs' Room: 'We beat ourselves,' coach Claude Julien says – Montreal Gazette

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‘Some really bad penalties in the offensive zone at bad times. Some real bad decisions,’ coach adds after 4-3 loss to Oilers.

EDMONTON — There’s nothing scarier for an NHL defenceman than to get caught flat-footed at centre ice with the Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid coming right at you.

That’s what happened to the Canadiens’ Ben Chiarot early in Saturday night’s 4-3 loss to the Oilers at Rogers Place and it resulted in goal by Leon Draisaitl on a two-on-one with McDavid to open the scoring only 1:30 into the game.

“I was flat-footed because there was a battle on the half wall,” Chiarot said after the game. “I thought our forward was going to poke it out, but it got knocked down. So I was flat-footed and McDavid doesn’t really stop in his own end, he just kind of carries his speed. So he picks that puck up in top gear and I’m standing still. I don’t care how good a skater you are, you’re not catching that guy when you’re standing still.”

McDavid caught Chiarot and defence partner Shea Weber flat-footed again when he broke through the middle on an Oilers power play in the second period to go in alone on goalie Carey Price and score with a nice move to his forehand.


Patrick Russell of the Edmonton Oilers moves the puck past Canadiens’ Mike Reilly at Rogers Place on Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019, in Edmonton.

Codie McLachlan /

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“He’s definitely got a couple of more gears than anyone else,” Chiarot said about McDavid. “He’s on top of you so quick. It doesn’t look like he has anything and then he’s gone. Like the power-play one. It doesn’t look like anyone’s coming through the neutral zone and then it goes to Draisaitl on the wall and he just one-touches it and McDavid’s gone already. He’s good at carrying his speed. It looks like there’s nothing and then he gets the puck with speed and you’re not catching him once he touches the puck in full gear.

“Obviously, we didn’t do a good enough job of limiting his chances or keeping him to the outside,” Chiarot said. “We made it pretty hard on ourselves.”

Giving the Oilers five power plays certainly didn’t help. Jordan Weal took two tripping penalties and was in the box when McDavid scored. The Oilers have the best power play in the NHL, clicking at 29.4 per cent.

“I’m disappointed,” coach Claude Julien said after the game. “I felt, or we felt, like we beat ourselves. Some really bad penalties in the offensive zone at bad times. Some real bad decisions. Two two-on-one goals. I didn’t think we were sharp tonight. Simple as that. We battled back, but at the end we have only ourselves to look at because we beat ourselves.”

Before the game, Julien said the key to beating the Oilers was to stay out of the penalty box.

“It doesn’t matter what I feel like right now,” Julien said after the game when asked about his frustration level. “I’m disappointed that we took those penalties — simple as that. A lot of them in the offensive zone. So those aren’t good penalties and that’s why I say we beat ourselves. We gave them what they wanted, the momentum with some power plays and, eventually, it came back to bite us.”

Jeff Petry (short-handed), Phillip Danault (power play) and Max Domi scored for the Canadiens. The shots were 26-26 and Carey Price saw his career record against the Oilers fall to 3-8-1.

Danault’s goal was the first of his career on the power play.

“I’m trying to do all those little details,” said Danault, who would love to get more time on the power play. “I won the draw, we worked hard to get that puck. A nice shot by Petey. I’m in front of the net, that’s where you score. It was good to score, but it would be even better if we won.”

Danault, who is averaging 1:08 of power-play ice time per game, now has as many power-play goals this season as Weal, who is averaging 2:03 of ice time with the man advantage.

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Since it was a road game and Julien didn’t have the last line change, it was more difficult for the coach to get Danault — his best two-way centre — on the ice against McDavid. Oilers coach Dave Tippett reunited McDavid with Draisaitl on the same line with Zack Kassian, which made the defensive job even more difficult.

McDavid (21-40-61) and Draisaitl (22-38-60) rank 1-2 in the NHL scoring race after playing 39 games. They are the first teammates to reach 60 points before game No. 40 since Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1996-97.

“Those turnovers we can’t afford against them,” Danault said about the McDavid-Draisaitl duo. “They live on that. They don’t play defence, they just play offence. So we make a little turnover on the hash mark and it’s over.

“They’re good on PP,” Danault added. “They’re tough to stop on PP. Five-on-five, too, they’re pretty good. It’s definitely a hard line to play against and they play every two shifts so you can’t match them every time. It’s a good line.”

Too good for the Canadiens to stop on this night.

scowan@postmedia.com

twitter.com/StuCowan1

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Canucks look like a team in serious trouble after loss to Canadiens – Sportsnet.ca

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VANCOUVER — For the first time since Travis Green was hired as coach, the Vancouver Canucks look dead in the water, truly stalled and in danger of foundering.

Hope that Wednesday’s wonderfully chaotic win against the Montreal Canadiens was a sign the Canucks were starting to move forward again was obliterated Thursday when Vancouver gave away a pile of goals, including two in nine seconds, and was embarrassed 7-3 by the Habs at Rogers Arena.

The seas are getting rougher and the Canucks already look capable of sinking. They no longer seem like a team trapped by circumstance in a slow start, but a team in serious trouble.

“We weren’t just giving up scoring chances, we were giving up goals,” Green, who is in the fourth and final year of his Canucks contract, said after the game. “We gift-wrapped probably four or five goals. It wasn’t a game where we were hemmed in our zone… it was just giving up breakaways. In this league, if you give up chances that are gifts, you’re going to lose bad. We did that tonight.”

After incremental improvements since Green’s arrival and a breakthrough season last year that included three rounds of NHL playoffs, the Canucks look lost.

Six games into 2021’s 56-game sprint, the Canucks have allowed 28 goals, easily the most in the NHL. And Vancouver’s minus-10 goal differential is better than only the Chicago Blackhawks’.

They’ve lost three defencemen to injury already and a fourth hasn’t played since testing positive for COVID. Another, veteran Tyler Myers, may face a disciplinary review for a late hit Thursday to the head of Montreal’s Joel Armia.

On Thursday, the Canucks’ power play was outscored 2-1 by the Canadiens penalty-killing and top forward Elias Pettersson, whose five-game scoring famine is the longest of his short career, was dropped from the first line after his second-period turnover led to one of Montreal’s shorthanded goals.

It is a mess.

“We look a little bit immature at times,” Green explained. “It could be when you have a little bit of success, and you win some playoff series, you come back and you forget how hard it is to win. We’re not a team that has ever won easy; we have to grind out wins. We’ve got to realize that and remember it’s hard to win in the league.

“We had that mentality last year. We’ve got to get back to that.”

When Canucks captain Bo Horvat was asked about Green’s observation, teammate Nate Schmidt, who was sharing the Zoom call with reporters, interjected.

A month before his October trade from the Vegas Golden Knights, Schmidt played against the Canucks in the playoffs.

“This group had a lot of jam… and didn’t give up on it,” Schmidt said. “They made it as hard as it could possibly be for Vegas to move on. It’s a series like that, you look at a team like this. . . (that’s why) there’s frustration in our group because you see how hard we can make it on teams to win.

“When I first got traded here, that’s something I thought was such a positive with the group. (It) was never going to let things like this go. It’s a reality check where we are. But the way I look at it, we know it’s there. I think that’s the reason why it’s frustrating.”

The Canucks defence had more kids in the cast than Sesame Street. With veterans Alex Edler and Travis Hamonic both injured on Wednesday and unable to play Thursday, Vancouver’s blue line included rookies Olli Juolevi (four NHL games), Brogan Rafferty (two) and Jalen Chatfield (one). Sophomore Quinn Hughes was the Canucks’ third-most experienced defenceman.

Of course there were going to be mistakes. And of course, another injury, as Chatfield, who was playing the best of the freshmen, failed to survive the first period.

But for all the concern about the defence’s inexperience, Vancouver’s biggest problems were some astonishingly poor plays from a few of its best players, including Schmidt.

With time and space and the puck in his own zone, Schmidt managed to whiff on a pass, then went to the wrong man after his turnover, leaving Armia with a shorthanded breakaway that he buried in the first period.

On a second-period Canucks power play, Pettersson’s nightmare start to the season got worse when his lateral pass at the Montreal blue line was picked off, leading to another breakaway and another goal for Tyler Toffoli.

When J.T. Miller’s shot bounced back off Canadiens goalie Jake Allen, as both Hughes and Myers were moving forward inside the offensive zone, Canucks goalie Thatcher Demko had the pleasure of another wide-open breakaway.

Demko managed to stop this one on Nick Suzuki, but the puck arced across the crease where Josh Anderson bunted it in after breezing uncontested past an exhausted Miller.

And Myers, the most experienced defenceman in the lineup, took three interference penalties in the first half of the game, then late in the second period turned over the puck along the boards in the Canucks’ zone and was slow to pick up his man as Armia scored again during the Canadiens’ three-goal outburst.

Nobody can win games when their “best” players are making plays this bad.

Horvat had two of the Canucks goals, Brandon Sutter the other. Armia finished with four points before leaving the game after getting crunched by Myers’ shoulder with 2:28 remaining. Myers was assessed a match penalty.

Armia’s linemate, Toffoli, scored twice and has five goals in two games against his ex-team.

Four points adrift of the Canadiens when they could have pulled even on Thursday, the 2-4 Canucks are in danger of losing touch with .500 heading into the series finale against Montreal on Saturday.

“We’re six games into it and we still have things to learn and things to clean up,” Horvat said. “Obviously, tonight wasn’t good enough. We know that as a group. There’s still a lot of hockey to be played and we’re going to be ready to go here in the next couple of days.”

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Canucks’ Myers ejected after hit to head on Canadiens’ Armia – Sportsnet.ca

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Canadiens @ Canucks Top Six Minutes: Tyler Toffoli, Canuck killer – Habs Eyes on the Prize

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For our new readers and members, the Top Six Minutes is a continuation of the discussion in the game thread. We try to keep it light and entertaining. Full recaps are up the morning after every game.

The finer points of hockey, when it comes to the Montreal Canadiens, boils down to staying out of the box. They’re not very good at doing that. You do that, you go to the box… Two minutes by yourself, and you feel shame. And then you get free.

Let’s see if they can stay free more often than not tonight.

**SPOILER ALERT** NOBODY STAYS FREE TONIGHT.

First Period

  • Jake Allen back between the pipes. I’ve seen some people suggesting that if he has a few more solid games there could be a goaltending controversy in Montreal.
  • Maybe, maybe not, maybe shut up.
  • There should be zero controversy about the following statement: Tyler Toffoli, so hot right now. 1-0 good guys
  • Scratch the goalie controversy I guess… Tyler Myers. 1-1.
  • If you thought that the teams would tighten up and play some defense after last night’s barn burner, THINK AGAIN YOU FOOL. BARN BURNERS. ALWAYS.
  • Aaaaaaand we have an absolute joke of a penalty against Jonathan Drouin. I guess this is just a carbon copy of last night, brutal officiating and all.
  • Step 1: take penalty. Step 2: Step 3: Joel Armia scores. 2-1
  • Oh hey, another complete bullshit penalty against Montreal. Come on guys, it isn’t funny anymore.
  • This time Vancouver does the scoring, which I assume is what the refs wanted all along. 2-2.
  • Wait, a penalty being called against Vancouver, IN Vancouver? What is this sorcery?
  • Montreal does not score and I will also blame that on the refs because I can.
  • Another penalty against Vancouver, in Vancouver? I thought these refs were just last night’s refs in disguise but maybe I’m just an idiot.
  • Montreal didn’t score on that one either so maybe it is the same jerk Zebras.

Second Period

  • Joel Edmundson is off to the box to begin the second. I’m not so sure these refs are Habs hunting anymore, I think they just like hearing their own voices over the PA.
  • TYLER TOFFOLI. SHORT HANDED. 3-2 GOOD GUYS
  • I don’t know what has gotten into Toffoli, but I like it. So. Hot. Right. Now.
  • A penalty to Vancouver…
  • A penalty to Nick Suzuki…
  • At this rate we’ll be lucky to see more than 10 minutes of 5 on 5 hockey from here on out.
  • The refs know that nobody paid to see them right?
  • Wow, that was like almost four minutes before the ref just had to call a ticky tack trip on the Habs. This time it’s Phillip Danault.
  • That is not a penalty. In no universe where hockey exists and is played by people with brains is that something you go to the box for. Except for this stupid game.
  • Myers to the box again for Vancouver… I’d honestly like to decline it on behalf of all fans that would like these refs to chill out a little.
  • This might be the longest 5 on 5 stretch of the entire game after the Myers penalty ended. It’s nice.
  • JOSH ANDERSON!! 4-2
  • JAKE EVANS!!!!!!!!! 5-2
  • Now you will understand why I wanted to see the 5 on 5 so badly. Montreal is better at that than they are at penalty festivals.
  • Joel Armia just deked around like 7 players at once including two of his teammates. 6-2 BUT WAIT, WE HAVE A CHALLENGE.
  • The goal stands. Now we get to add yet another penalty to the score sheet, and this one I can’t blame on the refs.

Third Period

  • Given a 6-2 lead, I expect the Canadiens to be penalized anywhere from five to 73 times in the final frame.
  • Well Brandon Sutter scored. I’ll be honest, I forgot he was even in the NHL still. Why does it feel like he always scores on the Habs?
  • There have been no penalties and we’re over five minutes into the period. I assume the refs are from the East and like myself, they’re ready for bed.
  • It’s either that or they’ve blown their whistles out and are too embarrassed to leave and get new ones.
  • Paul Byron just got absolutely drilled on the foot by a shot. Please Lord, don’t take Lord Byron from us.
  • He’s back on the bench. Fast Healing powers brought to you by the stores of Max Pacioretty’s blood that the Canadiens still keep on hand at all times.
  • The first penalty of the period comes with 5 minutes to play, and is against the team losing 6-3. Can’t say that’s anything near what I expected from this officiating crew.
  • Well, Tyler Myers just threw a completely gutless, pointless hit on Joel Armia. In a 6-3 loss with nothing to gain on either side, in the final minutes.
  • I hope Tyler Myers is forced at gunpoint to walk barefoot through a hallway lined wall to wall with legos. Sharp ones. Then, and only then, do I hope the NHL suspends him. What a coward.
  • Hope he enjoyed losing 6-3, that giant coward.
  • Make that 7-3, just for you, you gangly Pterodactyl looking piece of shit.
  • Habs win, Tyler Myers ruined my night, and I hope the Habs feed this team on Saturday night.

EOTP 3 Stars of the night

3) Practice makes perfect.

2) The hockey gods thou

ght it was so funny they decided to run it back.

1) I have assessed both Lats and Hab at Heart a penalty for merely discussing this.

And bonus stars for the good doggos:

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