MONTREAL – Claude Julien was asked on Wednesday about Charlie Lindgren's 1-4 defeat against the Chicago Blackhawks in Montreal, and he replied that the defeat was a team effort.
The trainer also played his role. And we're not talking about his decision to launch Lindgren against Carey Price, who stopped 72 of 73 shots in two wins before the game against a Blackhawks team that had won an overtime victory the night before in Ottawa while the Canadians competed rest and wait for them in Montreal.
When the Canadians got this game completely out of hand and Zack Smith (who scored two goals in 40 games) scored two goals in the first nine minutes – and one comedically thanks to miscommunication between Lindgren and Tomas Tatar – At least in part because Julien hadn't prepared them as well as they should have been.
Perhaps the most confusing event in this case, however, occurred after Max Domi imposed a ruthless, careless, selfish (or, as Julien later pointed out, useless) gross punishment against Matthew Highmore at the 10:22 mark of the second hit period , And no, it wasn't Julien's decision to park Domi at the end of Montreal's bank after Alex DeBrincat scored 35 seconds in the subsequent power game.
The actual head scratcher was the trainer's decision to leave Domi on the bench when Smith started 4:36 for high sticking in the meantime.
Julien was asked about the game how he decided to draw the line between the message he wanted to send to his player and an offensive way while remaining in the game.
"I did what I had to do," replied the trainer. "Such a useless punishment has consequences."
When we asked if he was tempted to motivate Domi by telling him that he had cost the team a goal and that it was time for him to go there and get it back with the possibility of power play Julien the following:
"These questions (about) whatever you feel … I did what I had to do, just like that. I don't have to explain it any more than I do. It is not the first time that he has received a bad punishment. There are consequences, and sometimes these messages go (much further back) than the current situation. And it doesn't matter who we put on (for the power game) instead of Max. Max is not the type to score goals here all the time. A power game consists of five players. It's that simple. "
Sign up for the NHL newsletter
Get the best of our NHL reporting and exclusive offers straight to your inbox!
And this team is made up of 20 players and five coaches, and everyone should be to blame for a performance that Julien has rated as the team's worst in 10 games.
We need not remind you that Canadians lost eight out of ten before Wednesday's debacle.
As badly as Montreal had started against Chicago, Phillip Danault scored 54 seconds in the second half to bring the Canadiens back to 2-1. And even though Domi's penalty had gone so badly and was undoubtedly more time off the ice than the 35 seconds he spent in the box, he is the second highest-scoring player on the team and he has to be out there to get you help a chance to convert a 3-1 deficit into a 3-2 game for the third period.
Perhaps the game will then play out differently than it actually was – the Canadians have given Drake Caggiula a goal and have been shot 11: 6 in the last frame.
"We weren't there at all. It's that easy," said Julien. "You are a team with good sticks, which was clearly pointed out before the game, but we weren't there at all. Not at all. We lost our struggles for loose pucks, we made bad decisions and we didn't deserve a win at all. "
All of this is true.
And Domi, who had apologized for having suffered a bad punishment against the New Jersey Devils on November 16 and also unsportsmanlike conduct for a double minor in the third period, should have known better.
The 25-year-old, who blamed himself that night, added: "I can't and it won't happen again."
But Domi is a lively player, a player who always plays on the edge, and there was no doubt that he would slip again – even if it only took him 10 minutes this season to roughen Highmore.
"I certainly didn't try to get a penalty during the game," he said of the situation on Wednesday. "But I watched the repetition and it is a punishment. So that's how it works. Unfortunately, they hit it. You can't – especially in the situation we are in now. It is what it is. The decision the coach, and of course I can't afford that. "
There was consistency in Julien's decision.
In Montreal's 16th game of the season, he held top scorer Tomas Tatar for most of the second half and up to four shifts in the third after a 2: 3 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on November 7th. after Tatar carried out nine and ten minor punishments in the young season – both bad stick injuries.
The Canadians are now in a much more desperate situation than they were then. They had to convert their winning streak into two in three games on Wednesday.
Even Larry David understands that scorers, apart from bad penalties, have to be on the ice in times of crisis.
Considering how they played against Chicago, it may not matter who came out of this failed power game while Domi was sitting on the bench.
But Domi has an eleven point lead this season, almost double what Nick Cousins, Jordan Weal and Artturi Lehkonen (six points) have brought together in this department, and he was highly motivated to make up for his mistake.
"Of course," said Domi. "I think we are all sitting there (want to do that) …"
But Julien made his decision and stuck to it. He could have made it all the way by leaving Domi outside for the rest of the game, but after the Canadiens had only 20 minutes left, he decided to play against him – and decided to get him out of this late Let the power game out the second even more curious.
We were praised for the work he did under the circumstances he had to deal with this season. We believe that with his roster and the injuries the Canadians have struggled with, he is almost finished with everyone else.
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 outcome.