Canadiens-Islanders: When Nothing Goes Right

Dominic Pampalon@d0mynycAnalyst INovember 25, 2008

As the Montreal Canadiens was sailing towards a 3-2 victory with a little more than four minutes to do in the final frame, the unthinkable happened.

Steve Bégin, Josh Gorges, and Maxime Lapierre had scored for Montreal after New York's Richard Park put the Islanders up 1-0. Trent Hunter scored the second goal for the Islanders.

Montreal was doing a decent job to stay ahead, when Ryan O'Byrne attempted to pass the puck to Carey Price while being pressured by Doug Weight.

The problem with this was that Price was at the bench, since there was a delayed call against New York.  O'Byrnes pass resulted in an own goal, and a 3-3 game.

What worries the most is the team's communication. How can O'Byrne not know that there was a penalty against the Islanders? All he had to do is either dump the puck behind the net if he wanted to keep the game going, or simply skate away and let Weight touch the puck for the whistle.

O'Byrne will become a good defenseman—but right now he isn't. Since the begining of the current season, he's made at least one big error per game. He is late on 90 percent of the plays by one second, and it is pathetic to watch him try to pivot when the puck is dumped on his side.

All the teams know O'Byrne's weaknesses—and they exploit them. Every time O'he is on the ice, the dump in is always on his side.

Ryan plays as if he were in Hamilton. Maybe he should be there, but becasuse of his contract, Montreal can only send him into the stands—unless they are willing to lose him on waivers.

Carbonneau cannot play him against Detroit or Washington. These teams have too much speed, and that missing second will kill Montreal. The only thing that can be done here is to scratch him for a few games, play Dandeneault in his place, and call up D'Agostini or Pacioretty.

But it would be unfair to put the blame on O'Byrne only for the loss. There are too many good players doing nothing on this team.

Kovalev insists on performing the same play over and over again, and opposing teams can anticipate his every move. Robert Lang keeps missing open nets. Since his injury, Higgins can't do anything with the puck. Yes, he had a hat trick not too long ago, but he is not consistent.

Another one who is not doing so great since he was injured after a big hit is Andrei Kostitsyn. He probably has one of the hardests shot in the league but he doesn't use it. Ovechkin has over five or six shots per game, because the only way you can score is to shoot the puck on the net. If Andrei Kostitsyn took as many shots as Ovechkin, he would be one of the top scorers on the team.

Why is it that in most games, the team's best lines are the third and fourth? Bégin and Lapierre are constantly in their opponents' face, and they always create turnovers.

Montreal cannot even hope to make the playoffs when the best lines are three and four. Koivu has been playing great—but he always does at the beginning of a season.

Montreal needs to wake up really soon—because if the slide continues, it will become difficult to catch up. Montreal is playing three games in four days. Detroit tomorrow, Washington on Friday, and Buffalo on Saturday. Nothing too encouraging for the Bleu Blanc Rouge.