Ryan O'Byrne: Not the Goat in Canadiens' Woes

Tim ParentSenior Writer INovember 24, 2008

When things are going wrong, things always seem to get worse.

For the Montreal Canadiens, things have been going wrong and got worse on Monday night.

Ahead 3-2 in the third period, a delayed penalty call against New York Islanders winger Sean Bergenheim went unnoticed by Ryan O'Byrne. With Doug Weight pressuring the young Montreal defenseman on the forecheck, O'Byrne decided to dump the puck to goalie Carey Price.

Thing is, Price was aware there was a delayed penalty call and had already skated to the bench.

The rest, as they say, is history. 

The puck sailed across the goal line and like that, the Islanders were back in it.

So was the crowd, all 21,273 strong, who made sure O'Byrne was aware they weren't happy with him. The boos lasted for a long time after the goal which sent the game in to overtime and then to a shootout, which ultimately went to the Islanders. Cue the sad trombone.

It was an unfortunate end to an unfortunate game, lost on an unfortunate goal.

What was most unfortunate, however, was the fan reaction to O'Byrne's misfire.

It's obvious those at the Bell Center, and the thousands watching at home, have forgotten their Sesame Street, when Big Bird apologetically sings "Everyone Makes Mistakes."

"Oh everyone makes mistakes, oh yes they do! Your sister and your brother and your dad and mother, too!"

And Ryan O'Byrne as well. It was a lapse in judgment that couldn't have come at a worse time, with the Canadiens are faltering during what is supposed to be a storybook year for the team. 

Fans have been looking for a goat and have found it in O'Byrne. He is now their lightning rod and will have endure bolt after bolt of anger and frustration. 

It's unfair, however, to boo O'Byrne mercilessly. It was obvious, as the puck drifted to the goal, that O'Byrne knew exactly what was about to happen.  He cupped his hands to his head as the goal light went on. He was inconsolable after the game.  He made a mistake and admitted it; that should be enough. Time to move on to the next game.

Besides, if you're going to boo O'Byrne, then you best prepare your diaphragm to holler at Christopher Higgins, who seems to have forgotten how to check an opponent.

Or how about Alex Kovalev, who seems to have forgotten what to do with the puck?

What about the entire power play unit, which has been as limp as an 80-year-old man who forgot to refill his Viagra prescription?

O'Byrne's goal isn't the only gaffe for the Canadiens. The entire team needs an enema, to flush out the bad and bring back the good.  Fortunately, there's still enough time left in the season to do just that. 

The loss against the Islanders, the result of scoring on their own net, is probably the lowest the team has been this season. The upside of being down, however, is that you can only go up, which is the best way for the Habs to silence the boos at the Bell Center.