Tough calls: The area in front of an NHL goalie's crease is a tough place for a player to spend time. Individual battles abound as forwards and defense fight for position, and often, it's only a matter of times before someone crosses the line and the referee has to step in. It's also one of the areas of the ice where Erik Cole likes to occupy, and after two penalties in Friday's game, it was job that likely seemed harder than ever.
"A guy can come in and cross-check you and fight for body position, and then when you fight for body position and that guy goes down, the call seems to always go against you so yeah, it's frustrating," expressed Cole, referencing a third period penalty he was handed while battling in front of Michal Neuvirth crease. Not only was Cole called for interference but the penalty came with the Habs on a power play where scoring would have pulled them within one goal of the opposition.
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"It feels like you have to stand in there and take a beating and you're not allowed to give anything back," added Cole who finished the night with 19:20 of ice time. "Tonight it seemed more like one guy was calling it like a playoff game and the other one wasn't."
Miscommunication: Building and keeping momentum is one of the most important keys to winning a hockey game. When a team is looking for confidence, sometimes giving up a tough first goal can be all it takes to throw a monkey wrench into the gears - as seemed to be the case Friday night when a does of confusion in the defensive zone led to an early Washington goal.
"The first goal was pretty much a collective brain cramp. It just went around the boards and got thrown out in front," began Carey Price, explaining Mathieu Perreault's first period marker. "I thought Kabby [Kaberle] was going to get it and he thought I was going to deflect it. But at the end of the day, I think that one's probably on me because I've got to deflect that puck if it's coming towards the net. So I'll take the blame for that one.
"It's hard to win games when you fall behind - especially by three goals," added Price who still ended the night with his share of highlight reel saves despite the 4-1 final score. "I thought we had a great third period, but it's frustrating to get that result."
Arrested advantage: While the stats sheet would indicate that the Canadiens enjoyed four power plays Friday night against the Capitals, a closer look would reveal that more than one was short lived. Finding themselves all too often surrendering the man-advantage for 4-on-4 play, head coach Randy Cunneyworth offered a few words on inopportune penalties.
"We have to work on being more disciplined. We had a few chances where we could have taken advantage of our power plays but instead we took penalties of our own. It always seemed to happen at the toughest times," dropped Cunneyworth while also pointing out the need for a harder physical presence.
"I'd also like to see us being a little more consistently physical out there. We should be finishing more of our checks. I'd like us to be harder on our opponents - especially on defensemen going back into their own zone to regain control of the puck," finished the Habs head coach whose team finished the night with a total of 24 hits - five less than the Capitals.
Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com
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