Habs’ Fourth Line: Built For The Grind

As if creating the upset of the playoffs wasn’t enough by eliminating the Toronto Maple Leafs after trailing the series 3-1, the Montreal Canadiens are looking at completing the sweep of their series against the Winnipeg Jets tonight. The Canadiens, who have yet to trail in any game in this series, have a 3-0 series lead over the Jets and can sweep the series at home tonight. Led by Carey Price in goal, the veterans of the team are leading the way, with the young guys following suit.

The biggest difference in leadership additions by Montreal and Toronto was the type of experience. And it’s paying off once again in this series. Guys who have been there, done that. As fans were all over Eric Staal during the regular season after his acquisition (deservedly so), most have changed their tune since the playoffs’ started. A controversial decision of sitting youngsters Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Cole Caufield to start the playoffs in favour of those “old guys” is now turning to be a key contributing factor to the Canadiens’ success.

In recent games, head coach Dominique Ducharme has decided to unite two older veterans and a younger veterans to make a “big line”. Joel Armia (6’3″, 212 lbs) and Corey Perry (6’3″, 206 lbs) are patrolling the wings with Staal (6’4″, 195 lbs) and their line is a huge contributor to the Jets being on life support for their playoffs’ hopes. Armia (10 GP, 4G-3A-7Pts, +4), Staal (9 GP, 1G-6A-7Pts, +3) and Perry (10 GP, 3G-3A-6Pts, +1) won’t blow by the opposition with their speed. But they are cycling the puck in the offensive zone like not other line on the Canadiens. They wear down the other team’s defense with their size and puck protection, and are putting points on the board. As a matter of fact, they lead the Canadiens’ offense in points (as a line). All three are in the Canadiens’ top-5 points getters in these playoffs.

Horrible officiating… still

Between the incompetence of the referees in the league and the inconsistency and, quite frankly, mind boggling decisions by the NHL Player Safety, the league is the laughing stock of all major pro sports in North America. It’s a problem. In fact, it’s a huge problem. It’s so obvious that one has to wonder of the league isn’t purposely turning a blind eye to it.

And when a league does that, when a Commissioner, who is supposed to look after what’s best for the league as a whole, seemingly puts his head in the sand, one has to wonder if he’s not part of the problem. Could it be that the directives to the referees and the NHL Player Safety are coming from above? Many of us are really starting to think so. Corruption in the NHL is a definite possibility.

Petry injury

During last night’s game, Jeff Petry caught his hand in a photographer’s hole in the glass and seems to jam a finger or his wrist. Which prompts the question: As seldom as it can happen, are pictures important enough to risk putting the players’ safety at risk?

Let’s hope that Petry doesn’t miss any time as the Canadiens’ coaching staff is leaning heavily on it’s Top-4 in the playoffs:

Shea Weber25:39
Ben Chiarot25:04
Jeff Petry23:52
Joel Edmundson21:58

Habs’ fans will be glued to their TV set tonight in hope that the Canadiens can finish the sweep and get some much needed rest, after taking the Leafs to seven games. Tonight’s game will be Montreal’s 11th game in 19 days in these playoffs. Go Habs Go!

Worth The Price of Admission

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