O’BYRNE, OH NO


As if there weren’t enough reasons to be frustrated with the play of defenceman Ryan O’Byrne this season.

O’Bryne made the highlight reel for all the wrong reasons Monday night, when he put the puck in his own net, giving the New York Islanders a chance to get back in, and eventually win, this game, 4-3 in a shootout.

With less than five minutes to play and the Canadiens leading 3-2, Sean Bergenheim of the Islanders was called for holding; a delayed penalty which enabled Habs’ goalie Carey Price to scramble for the bench in favour of an extra attacker.

Then, for some inexplicable reason, O’Byrne, who was on the ice at the time, decided to pass the puck back to his netminder.  Except by that time, Price was home and dry and sitting on the bench.  The puck ended up in the Canadiens’ net, giving Bill Guerin the easiest goal he’ll ever score.  O’Byrne’s “own goal” tied the contest at three.  And after blowing yet another power play opportunity after Jon Sim of the Islanders was called for delay of game at 18:34 of the third, the two teams skated through a scoreless overtime.

The Islanders then beat Price twice in the shootout, goals by Richard Park and Bill Guerin, giving New York enough of a cushion after Joey Macdonald had stopped by Andrei Kostitsyn and Alex Tanguay.

With the Bell Centre jeer of “O-BYRNE, O-BYRNE” still ringing in his ears, O’Byrne faced the music as he tried to digest his brain cramp which led to the Islander victory.

“It looks like I’ll be on a blooper reel for quite awhile,” said O’Byrne when this one was over.  “The puck was kind of chipped off the boards and I went back to get it and play it back to Price.  Obviously, Price wasn’t in the net, so…,” his voice trailing off.

So, indeed.

You want to know something?  I feel bad for the kid, I really do.  Here he is, pressed into some heavy-duty minutes as a result of a defensive corp that is thin on talent, never mind the injury to Mike Komisarek, and the guy puts the puck in his own net.  Talk about bad breaks, they don’t get much worse than that. 

But let me tell you what frustrates me even more about the play off Ryan O’Byrne this season. 

Let me take you back to the 3-2 shootout loss to the Bruins last Saturday night at the Bell Centre, when Phil Kessel turned O’Byrne inside out before dishing the puck to Milan Lucic for a goal.

Or the game against the ‘Canes in Carolina four nights earlier, when Sergei Samsonov blew by O’Byrne for a third-period goal in a game that effectively ended when Ryan Whitney scored the winner, with O’Byrne in the penalty box.

Oh, there are plenty of reasons to be frustrated with the play of Ryan O’Byrne, who has not progressed the way we all thought he would following his performance with the Canadiens last season.

However, before you you hand Ryan O’Byrne a one-way bus ticket to Hamilton as a result of his miscue last night, you might want to make room on that bus for the likes of Alex Kovalev, who is without a goal in his last ten games; and the entire Canadiens’ power play unit, which was 1-for-7 last night, and ranked 29th in the National Hockey League when it comes to power play efficiency on home ice, going into last night’s game.

For all the talent and skill this team supposedly possesses, how many times has a guy like Tom Kostopoulos been Montreal’s most effective forward this season??? And how about LAST night?  The goal scorers for the Habs (in addition to defenceman Josh Gorges):  Steve Begin and Maxim Lapierre, who, along with Mathieu Dandenault, formed Montreal’s most dangerous forward unit.

The fourth line. 

Are you kidding me?!?!?!?!

If you think the Canadiens’ biggest problem is Ryan O’Byrne putting the puck in his own net, well, I’ve got some land I’d like to sell you in Florida.

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About ahefter

I have covered hockey extensively during my 30-year sports broadcasting career. From the Miracle on Ice at Lake Placid to the Edmonton Oiler dynasty years, I've shared my views on hockey with listeners in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. You can "catch me in action" on Youtube at the following URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1n5BdB9ngYw My radio stops include TSN 690 Montreal, CJAD Montreal, CKNW Vancouver, and CKEY Toronto. I also ran the Canadian Press sports desk (radio). My travels as a network reporter have taken me to four Olympics, most recently Vancouver 2010. I'm currently an Applied Assistant Professor within the School of Communication at the University of Hartford.
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