About last night …

SpatchoCelebrates
The worst part of the evening might have been the drive home.
After watching the Canadiens mount a comeback, blow a lead and lose 5-3 to the last-place team in the Eastern Conference, I clicked on the car radio to hear Ron Fournier, on 98,5 FM, doing the revised math on miracle playoff scenarios.
Fournier calculates the Canadiens have to win three and lose one through six more four-game sets.
While I was chewing on those numbers, I drove past a gas station.

On the way in to the Bell Centre, I noted a reasonably low price, by recent standards, to start the week: $1.32.4 per litre.Thought about filling up, then figured “nah, I want to get to the arena. I’ll do it on the way home.”

You know what’s coming, right?

$1.41.4

Bummer.

While Montrealers were watching their hockey team dig itself a deeper hole, gas spiked seven cents a litre.

Ever get the feeling there are vast commercial forces beyond our control that are really screwing us?

Which brings me – via a circuitous route that wasted fuel – to the two Montreal Canadiens who had the least ice time against Carolina:

Andrei Kostitsyn had six even-strength shifts and played four minutes and 20 seconds. During the third period, when the Canadiens were watching Carolina steal a game the home team needed desperately, AK46 played one shift that lasted 40 seconds.

Kostitsyn had no shots on goal, but he registered two hits.

Scott Gomez played nine shifts. His 7:49 of ice time included 2:20 on the power-play. The PP time was all in the third period.

Gomez had no shots on goal. He missed the net twice, had a shot blocked, won two of three faceoffs.

Between them, Kostitsyn and Gomez are making $10.75 million this season.

That’s a lot of Geoff Molson’s money nailed to the bench in a game the Canadiens had to win.

Aaron Palushaj makes less than $800,000. He played 9:57, had three shots on goal and three hits.

Mathieu Darche is making $700,000. He played 17:41.

David Desharnais, who had a goal and an assists, makes $750,000 to centre the Canadiens number-one line.

Shall we talk about salaries on the blueline?

Tomas Kaberle – who was brutal on the Eric Staal shorthanded goal that turned the game around – makes $4 million.

P.K. Subban – whose minutes were under control, as was his style, during the four-game winning streak – played 24:34, high on both teams, and busted his ass in  repeated efforts to get the Canadiens back into the game late.

The kid makes $875,000.

There’s a Bell Centre promo for an upcoming game featuring the Hamilton Bulldogs:

“The next generation will be here Feb. 24 …”

Hey, the Canadiens’ next generation has been here since the beginning of the season. The cupboard is so bare in Hamilton that Ian Schultz was called up, got in a pre-game warmup and then was shipped back to the farm.

There’s talent in the pipeline, but Nthan Beaulie, Brendan Gallagher, Jarred Tinordi et al are a year or two away from The Show.

By the time the next “next generation” arrives, Kostitsyn, Gomez and Kaberle will be gone.

And – let’s be candid – not a moment too soon.

This is the time of the season when the best players on the best teams play their best hockey.

Caroline is not one of the NHL’s best teams. But in outbattling the Canadiens and beating them in their own barn, the Hurricaes were sparked by their best player playing his best.

Eric Staal had two goals and an assist. He played 23:36 in all situations, finished at plus-3 and was the game’s First Star.

Staal makes $25o,ooo more than Gomez.

I know: I’m flogging a dead horse here.

We all know Gomez hasn’t earned his salary since Glen Sather gave him the ridiculous contract that Bob Gainey kindly took on … while giving the Rangers Ryan McDonagh as a gratuity.

But when the four straight wins rekindled the dream – or the fear, if you’re in the Tank Corps – of  postseason hockey, there was the hope that Gomez might recapture some semblance of his talent to help the stretch drive.

And perhaps AK46, playing for a new contract in Montreal or elsewhere, might crank his game up to the levels we’ve seen so rarely over the last five years.

Gomez and Kostitsyn didn’t cost the Canadiens the game.

How could they, with so little ToI when the issue was decided?

Carey Price has had better nights. His defence wilted under the heat of the Carolina forecheck.

But Erik Cole and Tomas Plekanec played their hearts out. And their efforts provided a vivid contrast to the no-shows … and, in the case of numbers 11 and 46, the no-plays.

The Bruins at the Bell Centre on Wednesday, then a trip to Buffalo and New Jersey at the Bell on Sunday.

According to Fournier’s formula, the Canadiens – having started the week with a loss – have to win all three games.

Not easy.

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