The Zebras Dropped The Ball Again

Armia assessed a penalty that really should have been a powerplay for the Canadiens, but such is the way the cookie crumbled.

Montreal Canadiens v New Jersey Devils
Montreal Canadiens v New Jersey Devils / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

The Montreal Canadiens' fate was essentially sealed with 28 seconds left in regulation against the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night.

Joel Armia was interfered with by Evander Kane causing his stick to bump up and catch Adam Henrique in the chops. The infraction drew blood and Armia went to the box for four minutes. While the penalty didn’t directly indicate a loss, it’s easy to read between the lines. 

The Oilers feature two of the top five most potent offensive weapons in the league. Evan Bouchard on the blueline is also no slouch, as Samuel Montembeault knows. Leon Draisaitl got a dish from Connor McDavid and secured the second point with his patented one-timer. 

A penalty was warranted on the play, but it can be argued that Kane could have gotten the gate for his blatant interference against Armia. The play never happens if not for that and oddly enough, it wasn’t the first blown call of the night. The Canadiens suffered a big loss against the Calgary Flames, mainly orchestrated by a questionable call against Juraj Slafkovsky. 

My colleague Ken MacMillan spoke at length about it in this article. More concerning is that less than a week later a game is being swayed by a questionable call. NHL officials have an important job to police what happens on the ice and for that reason, they have instant replay, but the two linesmen and the two referees upon further discussion penalized Armia. 

In a game where the onus was largely based on momentum, the Oilers were in full control after 40 minutes of play. Nick Suzuki broke the goose egg with his career-high 27th goal assisted by Juraj Slafkovsky and David Savard. The tally came 32 seconds into the final frame and set up for Edmonton native Kaiden Guhle to tie the game with a slick snipe past Calvin Pickard.

It’s a disappointing result for the Canadiens who worked hard to claw themselves back into the contest. And since Martin St. Louis has been away from the team, the Canadiens haven’t gotten the results they would hope for. But the effort hasn’t wavered, even though the loss was their 39th one-goal loss of the season. 

Officiating may never completely change, but the Habs are in total control of their effort. This is a sign of positive things to come, once Kent Hughes shores up the depth on lines two through four. Adding some more goals to the lineup should be significant for next season and beyond. 

At the end of the day, the referee will call it as he sees it, but chipping in an additional goal or two each night will keep the momentum in the Canadiens' favour.