MONTREAL — There’s the red line, the blue line and “the fine line” — that tricky boundary that gritty hockey players sometimes cross and land their team in trouble.
Canadiens forward Ryan White, who has 46 penalty minutes in seven games this season, is back in the doghouse after taking a costly double-minor penalty Thursday in the Habs’ 5-4 shootout loss to the Buffalo Sabres.
Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien met with White on Friday morning, but declined to reveal more, saying he wanted it to stay between them.
“The conversation is probably what you think it was,” White told reporters after the team’s practice.
“He obviously wasn’t too happy with the situation and I hurt my team again.”
It was the second time White faced the media since the game in Buffalo, when the Sabres scored while he was in the penalty box, then tied the game with 1.9 seconds left. The Sabres went on to win in the shootout.
White received a double-minor penalty for roughing after he took issue with a check by Sabres forward Steve Ott and tried unsuccessfully to get him to fight.
“I thought he was taking a shot at my knees and I didn’t like it, so I guess I put myself in front of the team,” said White, 24.
“And that’s what hurts the most. He did a good job of getting me to take that four-minute penalty and it cost us the game.”
Former Canadiens tough-guy Chris Nilan offered some encouragement to White on Friday via Twitter, telling him to hang in there and saying he’d “been there done that and got more than one T-shirt.”
“He’s a young guy. And I’m sure he knows better,” Nilan said in an interview.
“But here’s the deal: It’s an emotional game. A player like that, that really thrives on emotion — honestly, he’s going to do the team more good than he’s going to hurt the team.”
White said a bunch of his teammates also offered encouraging words Friday.
“Everyone in here cares about Whitey and loves the guy,” forward Colby Armstrong said.
“He plays on the edge and he plays hard and wears his heart on his sleeve out there. I guess we just learn from it and move forward. But I know everybody in this room has his back, so it’s too bad we just couldn’t get that (penalty) kill for him.
“You want to play hard, but you don’t want to put your team down and I’ve done it before,” Armstrong added. “I don’t know if there’s anybody in this room who hasn’t done it before.”
White said it’s his first time kind of “being on the wrong side of things” and he’ll learn from it.
“I’ve just got to go out there and, you know, play my game and it’s a fine line to walk,” he said.
“I’ve been here for 60 some games now and we’re having this conversation after two nights, so my body of work should show that I’m a disciplined player most of the time, and I crossed the line a few times and I hurt my team and that’s the way it goes.”
White had been a healthy scratch since taking costly penalties in the Canadiens’ 5-1 loss on Jan. 30 against the Ottawa Senators.
Therrien said he would reveal his lineup on Saturday for the Canadiens’ game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Bell Centre (7 p.m., CBC, RDS, TSN 690 Radio). White doesn’t expect to play.
Ten games into the season, Therrien said he likes his team’s record (6-3-1). But what he likes a lot more is the way the Canadiens are playing and that they’ve been able to exploit their speed and dictate games.
“It’s more those things that I look at,” the coach said.
Therrien said the team has been getting the job done defensively this season. As for faceoff percentages, his assessment of the team’s overall performance in that department is “fair” but not where he’d like to see it.
Therrien also noted that the line centred by Tomas Plekanec — who leads the team in goals with six — with Brian Gionta and Rene Bourque has good stability and “they play really well, game in, game out since the beginning of the year.”
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