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Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban and Columbus Blue Jackets forward Derek MacKenzie.
The victory against Blue Jackets was the Habs’ second straight game that went to a shootout, with the Habs admirably going the distance with the Eastern Conference-leading Tampa Bay Lightning this past Tuesday (before losing 2-1).
Granted, Tampa was without Steven Stamkos, but the Habs were without, yes, Desharnais.
*five-second pause for the laughter to die down*
Ignoring the disparity in talent, they both are technically their respective team’s top-line centers, at least when they’re performing…which for Stamkos is pretty much all the time.
Desharnais—who, well, was a healthy scratch, which should tell you all you need to know about how he’s been performing—does have nine career shootout goals in 19 attempts for a team-leading 47.4 percent career shooting percentage.
So he might have actually helped the team to win that shootout just like he did against the Blue Jackets.
It’s actually important to give the Habs, and, most importantly, goalie Carey Price (44 saves on 45 shots), their due as they hung in there with a desperate opponent trying to prove all the pundits wrong. While the Lightning may very realistically drop in the standings with their star player out, the free fall likely won’t start for a few games.
It’s still important to realize that as good as Tampa was, the Habs didn’t do themselves any favors, giving Tampa the last four power plays of the game.
If an avoidable high-sticking call at 16:27 of the third period against Rene Bourque wasn’t bad enough, the Habs had to deal with an ill-advised and rarely seen hand-pass face-off violation call against Lars Eller at 18:54.
Taking into account the two minutes Andrei Markov got for shooting the puck over the glass in overtime, one has to seriously wonder if the Habs would have even seen the shootout—let alone overtime—had Stamkos been taking one-timers on the power play instead of Teddy Purcell.
There’s no denying the Habs’ penalty kill is an incredible 86.5 percent right now. However, they have been shorthanded 74 times this season. The Pittsburgh Penguins have conversely been shorthanded over 20 times less.
The most telling stat is that the Habs, who are renowned for drawing a large amount of penalties, have been shorthanded 4:22 more than they have been on the power play this season.
That’s of course not even including fighting majors (the Habs have 15 total majors this season, tied with the fight-happy Philadelphia Flyers, FYI).
Fighting is admittedly one thing and dumb penalties another. Add it all up, though, and it’s easy to see the Habs are playing with fire…in more ways than one.