About last night …

The Bell Centre has been sold out for every game since Jan. 8, 2004.
That’s 325 consecutive times your Montreal Canadiens have played in front of 21,273 men, women and children who love their hometown hockey team with a passion that borders on – and sometimes spills over into – fanaticism.
Tuesday night, for the 22nd time this season, the most loyal and passionate fans in the National Hockey League went home disappointed, angry, disillusioned and generally bummed out.

It’s one thing to be outhit, outhustled, outskilled and outgoaltended en route to losing 3-0 on home ice to St. Louis. The Blues are a bona-fide Stanley Cup contender.

The Dallas Stars aren’t going to be hoisting any silverware in June. Sending your fans home unhappy after being shut out by Dallas is … What?



Subject to criminal prosecution?

Sadly, the most appropriate adjective is “typical”.

The Canadiens have crapped the bed repeatedly on home ice this season. If they sweep the remaining eight Bell Centre dates on their schedule (yeah, like that’s gonna happen), the Canadiens will finish with a home record of 19-14-8.

Bottom line, dispensing with OT and shootout points: They will end this miserable season with more home-ice losses than wins.

It’s not unprecedented. The Canadiens were 20-16-5 at the Bell Centre in 2009-’10. But then that miracle playoff run helped everyone forget 21 Ls during the regular season.

We’ll enjoy no such escapism this spring.

I know, I know … the Canadiens are still alive for a playoff spot. But c’mon, let’s be serious for a minute here.

The team is in 14th place in the Eastern Conference, a point ahead of Carolina. And the Hurricanes hold a game in hand.

I don’t see much point to dissecting the latest loss and analyzing shots on goal, time on ice, power-play effectiveness, etc.

With the exception of the heroic Erik Cole, playing his heart out on one healthy leg, the Canadiens looked like a 14th-place team.

As has been the case all too frequently this season, the home side was at its worst in the first period – sloth and ineptitude that drains the Bell Centre of energy, nullifies any possible intimidation factor the building may inflict, gift-wraps momentum and hands it to guys in white jerseys.

It will be different next season. It has to be if Geoff Molson and his investors factored a never-ending streak of sellouts – and annual playoff revenue – into the inflated price they paid George Gillett for this hockey team.

The Tuesday game was a promotion for the Reno-Depot home renovation supply chain. Fans were given red hard-hats – which made me grateful no Canadien scored three goals.

But the plastic souvenir symbolized the rebuilding of this hockey franchise – a renovation project with no completion date in sight.

The Canadiens will have a new general manager at the draft table when they exercise a lottery pick in June.

They will have a new coach when training camp opens.

We can only hope there will be new faces lined up at the blueline for the gala home opener in October.

The mandate for the new GM, skipper and skaters will be straightforward: Win … especially at home.

As any Montrealer or frequent visitor can tell you, this is a party town.

We get massive, six-figure crowds dancing in the downtown streets at a jazz festival many consider the best in the world.

Our world-class symphony orchestra plays in a new, state-of-the-art concert hall.

Our clubs rock until 3 a.m. … and beyond.

Montrealers like a good time, at the end of which we head home tired, all partied-out and very happy.

there used to be nights like that at the Forum and the Bell Centre.

This season, though, not many.

The Canadiens have been shut out five times on home ice. On four occasions, the score has been 3-0 – including two at the hands of the stumbling, bumbling Washington Capitals, whom the Canadiens visit on Friday.

This just isn’t acceptable. Not in Montreal.

Fans here expect better.

They demand better.

And they deserve better.

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