The consequences of those penalties are blatantly obvious when a 5-on-3 power play results and the opposing team scores the winning goal, but I want to look at what isn't so obvious.
During Monday's game, two of Montreal's most dangerous players were Mike Cammalleri and Andrei Kostitysn. Neither of them play on the penalty kill, and even if they did, it wouldn't be a situation where they can best exploit their skills.
Cammalleri played 17:47 on the night, or 91 seconds fewer than Travis Moen. Kostitsyn was on the ice for 16:46, or just under a minute less than his younger brother Sergei, who had an excellent game but still is not quite as dynamic an offensive force as Andrei. Josh Gorges led all Habs defencemen in ice time with 24:29, and while he's a noble player who always puts in a solid effort, Montreal is in trouble when he's your top minute-muncher on defence.
The point I'm trying to make is the Habs are a team with very little firepower, especially the way it is currently composed, and when they continuously take penalty after penalty they are preventing what little firepower they do have from getting out on the playing surface.
So even though the power play is producing at a ridiculous rate these days, 7-for-16 over the last five games, it's overshadowed by the fact Montreal is spending 10-12 minutes a game killing penalties. Even if the penalty kill continues to shine, that kind of frequency prevents the team from creating any kind of offensive rhythm, which leads to an inability to sustain pressure, which leads to an inability to draw penalties from the other team, which puts pressure on your goalie, and so on, and so on.
This team has a lot of limitations, but playing with discipline is something the Canadiens can control. Granted, often times the Habs are taking penalties as a result of extended periods pinned in their own end, but you would think that after the same pattern repeating itself over so many games the message would get through to pay extra careful attention to what you're doing with your stick or your hands.
Obviously, the message is not getting through, and head coach Jacques Martin says he'll soon be in a position to do something about it.
"Right now, we have 20 healthy players. We basically played with 11 forwards tonight," Martin said after the game, when asked when he will start to impose consequences to the players who are showing a consistent lack of discipline at key moments. "But we'll have some players coming back eventually."
So for now, his hands are tied. But if he could, you have to figure Glen Metropolit would be due for a punishment after back-to-back games of taking penalties that cost his team the game. I love Metropolit for everything he brings to the table, but these penalties the last two games have been inexcusable.
A final note before I pass out for the night on Jaroslav Halak. First off, let me say that I don't believe in showcasing players, and I'm not sure NHL teams do either. Trades are usually made after weeks, if not months of scouting, and I have trouble believing a team will base its decision on a given player based on a single game seen live.
However, having said that, it's clear that Halak has been a subject of discussion lately, and rightly so. At his salary, practically every team in the league could add him to their puzzle without suffering severe cap consequences, and he's a very capable goalie. I was expecting to see scouts from the some of the usual suspects who have been linked to him of late, but the only one that caught my eye was a Detroit Red Wings scout.
The Red Wings don't play the Habs again this year and they play Buffalo three months from now, so the presence of the scout could not be explained by simple advanced scouting. While I don't blame Halak for Monday's loss, I can't imagine that scout was overly impressed.