MONTREAL – Claude Julien was asked about Charlie Lindgren’s performance in Montreal’s 4-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday and his response was that it was a team effort to lose.
The coach also played his role. And we’re not talking about his decision to start Lindgren over Carey Price, who had stopped 72 of 73 shots in two wins before the game against a Blackhawks team that had achieved an overtime victory in Ottawa last night while the Canadiens were resting and waiting for them in Montreal.
If the Canadiens started this completely out of place, allowing Zack Smith (he of two goals in 40 games) to score two goals in the first nine minutes, and one in a funny way thanks to a lack of communication between Lindgren and Tomas Tatar, it was at least partly because Julien didn’t have them as well prepared as they should have been.
But perhaps the most confusing thing that happened in this happened after Max Domi received a careless, careless, selfish penalty (or as Julien later referred to her, useless) about Matthew Highmore at the 10:52 mark of the second period. And no, it was not Julien’s decision to park Domi at the end of the Montreal bank after Alex DeBrincat scored 35 seconds in the resulting power play.
The real blow of the head was the coach’s decision to keep Domi on the bench when Smith left with 4:36 remaining in the middle period.
After the game, Julien was asked how he had decided to follow the line between the message he wanted to send to his player and having to rely on an offensive guy while following the game.
“I did what I had to do,” the coach replied. “You take a useless penalty like that, there are consequences.”
When asked if he was tempted to motivate Domi by telling him that it had cost the team a goal and that it was time for him to leave and recover it with the opportunity of the power game, Julien said the following:
“Those questions (about) whatever you feel … I did what I had to do, it’s that simple. I don’t have to explain it more than I did. It’s not the first time I receive a serious penalty. There are consequences , and sometimes those messages (go back much further) than the situation right there. And it doesn’t matter who we put ourselves (for the power game) instead of Max. Max is not the type who will score goals all the time here, so a power game is a unit of five men. It’s as simple as that. “
And this team is made up of 20 players and five coaches, and everyone should blame it for a performance that Julien ranked as the worst team in 10 games.
We don’t need to remind you that Canadians had lost eight of 10 before Wednesday’s debacle.
As bad as Montreal had started against Chicago, Phillip Danault scored 54 seconds in the second period for the Canadiens to return to 2-1. And although Domi’s penalty was very timely and unquestionably worth more time away from the ice than the 35 seconds he spent in the box, he is the second player with the highest score in the team and has to be there to give you a possibility of converting a 3-1 deficit into 3-2 for the third period.
Maybe the game develops differently thereafter, instead of how he really did it, with the Canadiens allowing Drake Caggiula a goal and receiving an 11-6 shot in the final draw.
“We weren’t there at all. It’s as simple as that,” Julien said. “They are a team that has good canes, which was clearly pointed out before the game, but we weren’t there at all. No way. We lost our battles for loose records, we made bad decisions and we didn’t deserve a victory at all.”
That is all true.
And Domi, who apologized for receiving a bad penalty and unsportsmanlike behavior in addition to a double minor in the third period of a loss of extra time 4-3 to the New Jersey Devils on November 16, should have known better. .
The 25-year-old, who blamed himself that night, added: “I can’t do that and it won’t happen again.”
But Domi is a fighting player, a player who always plays on the edge, and there was never any doubt that he would fall again, even if he had only taken 10 minors this season before mistreating Highmore.
“During the play I certainly wasn’t trying to penalize,” he said of Wednesday’s situation. “But I saw the repetition and it’s a penalty. That’s how it goes. Unfortunately, they scored on that. He can’t do that, especially in the situation we are in now. It’s what it is. The coach’s decision, and obviously not I can afford to do that. “
There was consistency in Julien’s decision.
In the sixteenth game of the season in Montreal, he kept the top scorer of the Canadians, Tomas Tatar, for most of the second period and all but four shifts in the third of a 3-2 defeat in overtime against the Philadelphia Flyers November 7 He had received minor penalties nine and 10 of the young season, both infractions of lazy stick.
The point is that Canadians are in a much more desperate situation now than they were then. They needed to turn their streak of two consecutive wins into three on Wednesday.
Even Larry David understands that, aside from the bad punishments, the scorers must be on the ice at the decisive moment.
Given how they played against Chicago, it might not have mattered who came out in that failed power game while Domi was stapled on the bench.
But Domi has 11 points in the men’s lead this season, almost double what Nick Cousins, Jordan Weal and Artturi Lehkonen (six points) have combined in that department, and he was very motivated to make up for his mistake.
“Of course,” Domi said. “I think we are all sitting there (wanting to do that) …”
But Julien made his decision and stood firm. He could have done his best to leave Domi out for the rest of the game, but with only 20 minutes for the Canadiens to return, he decided to play with him, making the decision to leave him out of that power game at the end of the game. The second even more curious.
We have been frank about the work he has done under the circumstances he had to deal with this season. We believe he has done his best with the list he has had and the injuries with which Canadians have been beaten.
But Julien’s decision on Wednesday played a role in Montreal’s loss to Chicago, and he should share some of the blame for the result.