The question is, whose mistake are we talking about?
When Andrei Kostitsyn was whistled for nudging Aaron Ward from behind in the second period of Wednesday night's 3-1 loss in Boston, I thought it was a borderline call to begin with. Then the venerable Chris Lee decided the play warranted a major penalty, probably because Ward was laid out on the ice. Lee didn't know at the time that Ward wouldn't return to the game, so the decision to give Kostitsyn a major penalty was based on what Lee saw unfold during the play.
That's where I have trouble understanding Lee's decision-making process, as is often the case with him. Anyone who reads this site regularly enough knows my policy on complaining about officiating, that it's rarely the main reason why a team won or lost, and the same is true here. But when it's the same referee making iffy calls over and over again, I feel some questions need to be asked.
Anyhow, as I alluded to, the Canadiens did not lose the game when Kostitsyn was called for that major boarding penalty and Patrice Brisebois was given a chintzy hooking call moments later. (CORRECTION: It was Roman Hamrlik that was called for cross-checking, which was totally warranted. The chintzy Brisebois hook was earlier and led to Boston's first goal. My bad.)
No, the Habs lost the game in the first period when they completely dominated the Bruins, yet entered the first intermission in a scoreless tie.
The Habs absolutely had to get at least a goal in those 20 minutes to force the Bruins to change their game plan a little in the second, but Tim Thomas held the fort. It's become clear that whatever mental block he had with the Habs last season was erased by his performance in last year's playoffs, and he was the difference-maker in the Bruins win.
Otherwise, I think the Habs showed a few encouraging signs because, all in all, they outplayed the Bruins everywhere but the scoreboard. The Maxim Lapierre line continued to do its job, with Guillaume Latendresse firing six pucks on net. Mike Komisarek was credited with 11 hits in his first game in Boston since Milan Lucic ripped his shoulder apart while administering a major beat down on him. If you think the stats keepers in Boston were simply being generous, consider that no other play in the game was credited with more than three hits on the night. And the power play scored for a fourth straight game, which can officially be called a streak and augurs well for the second half of the season.
But most importantly in my eyes was the play of Tomas Plekanec, especially in that first period. When he dipsy-doed around Matt Hunwick about nine minutes into the game, Plekanec showed the kind of jump and gutsiness he showed nearly every game last season. It was one of those plays I was referring to in my mid-term report card, one that makes you sit up and take notice. If that performance can lead to a little streak for Plekanec, the Canadiens will be extremely difficult to beat.
Of course, that's assuming Plekanec is still wearing a Canadiens uniform in March.