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Disciplinary action

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
MONTREAL -- The penalty box can be a lonely place.

The Canadiens are finding that out the hard way.

While the heated penalty box in Calgary on the weekend was likely a welcome break from the bitter cold, the one at the Bell Centre has been anything but a comfort to the Habs this season.

They might be in the middle of the pack league-wide with an average of 13.3 penalty minutes per game, but that doesn’t tell the entire story. With a whopping 277 minors whistled against them so far in 2010-11, the Habs are ranked 29th in the league just ahead of the Penguins.

“We talk all the time about how we need to watch it with the penalties and then tonight, bang-bang we have two power-goals scored against us,” explained James Wisniewski after the Leafs went 3-for-6 with the extra man. “We hope to stay out of the box and then the next thing we know we’re playing shorthanded. We lost our focus there for five minutes or so and it cost us. We worked hard tonight, but sometimes it’s also a question of working smart.”

Wisniewski isn’t the only one hoping the parade to the penalty box will soon be over for the Habs.

“It’s been a problem for us lately, and it affects our whole group,” admitted Cammalleri. “Like most teams we’re at our best when we don’t take penalties. Playing at full strength allows us to get into our flow, into our rhythm and helps us stay consistent. It’s definitely an area we want  to improve on.”

The Canadiens disciplinary issues weren’t helped by a few phantom calls made on Thursday night. Case in point was a first-period hooking call on captain Brian Gionta that foiled a 2-on-1 break and ended up helping the Leafs get on the board.

“That first penalty on Gio was a tough one,” admitted Cammalleri. “Our referees work hard and they have a difficult job to do, but they’re human beings. Look, we all make mistakes. A referee can make 90 good calls one night and one bad one, so you can’t get mad at those guys, they do a heck of a job. We just need to be better.”

Despite spotting the Leafs a 3-1 lead and being called for four straight penalties in the first period, the Canadiens clawed their way back and almost forced overtime.

“We popped a few in there and I really thought we were going to be able to come all the way back,” said Carey Price who stopped 17-of-19 shots in relief of Alex Auld. “We didn’t quit out there and we battled right until the end.” 

Manny Almela is a writer for

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