About last night … with audio

The Blackhawks played – and lost – a Tuesday night game in Pittsburgh.
They got back to Chicago late.
It would stand to reason, then, that your rested Montreal Canadiens would have an advantage in the third period.
Uhh … no.

Chicago owned the final 10 minutes of the hockey game, scoring three unanswered goals.

The well-rested Canadiens – desperately in need of points and, presumably, anxious to finally win one for their good-guy new coach – had THREE shots in the third period.

How good will they be in the third period of Thursday night’s game in Winnipeg?

The Canadiens are in 12th place in the Eastern Conference, two points behind the Jets, who have two games in hand.

I know it’s alarmist to draw this conclusion after 35 games, but this season is going down the dumper … fast.

“Good teams make fortune go their way,” Randy Cunneyworth said after the game.

Conversely, bad teams never seem to catch a break. And it is becoming painfully obvious, as the calendar year winds down, that the 2011 Canadiens are not a very good hockey team.

Wanna get really depressed? Go to capgeek.com and check out the highest-paid Chicago Blackhawks vs. the highest-paid Canadiens.

And Chicago, which leads the Western Conference and will be a Stanley Cup contender, has cap space to add a piece or two at the trade deadline.

Claude Giroux returned from injury Wednesday night. He scored a goal and added three assists.

Think that’s going to happen with Brian Gionta? Or Scott Gomez?

It’s a cliché you hear often on the RDS telecasts: Your best have to be at their best.

Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp and Duncan Keith played excellent games.

Mike Cammalleri didn’t. The non-scoring sniper was minus-3, as was his linemate Tomas Plekanec and the team’s steadiest defenceman, Josh Gorges

Gorges’ D partner, P.K. Subban was minus-2. As was the case in Boston Tuesday night, P.K. made a soft backhanded pass that led directly to a goal-against. To compound his miserable evening, P.K. uncorked wild, ill-advised slap shots that sabotaged power-plays while the Canadiens were still in the game … which they were for 50 minutes … a tribute to Cunneyworth’s planning and motivational skill.

But what can this coach do with the roster that got Jacques Martin fired??

The guys on L’Antichambre say Cunneyworth has to cut Subban’s ice time, which was 23:28.

Fair enough.

So who joins Gorges in the first pairing? Raphael Diaz? Maybe Alexei Emelin draws in, returning to the left side while Gorges plays on the right.

P.K. is getting a lot of well-deserved stick, but defence is not the problem on this team.

The Canadiens got one goal in Chicago, two in Boston.

They are 12th in the NHL in goals against, averaging 2.63 per game.

In goals for, the Canadiens are 24th: 2.49 per game.

The David Desharnais line carries the team. Not only are the Canadiens incapable of getting six forwards going simultaneously, they rarely put together two dominant shifts in a row.

There was a sequence in the game when Toews, Kane  and Andrew Brunette cycled the puck through an entire shift, using their skill and tenacity to maintain possession until they could get the shot they wanted.

How often do you see the Canadiens exhibit that kind of dominance?

Never … or hardly ever … or maybe a couple times last season.

Bertrand Raymond has written a devastating piece for the RDS web site. The veteran journalist, who has covered the Canadiens since the glorious 1970s, thinks the team has been spinning its wheels since Ron Corey fired Serge Savard, replacing him as general manager with the hapless Réjean Houle, who had no managerial experience and had been a Molson beer rep for 10 years.

Pierre Gautheir is an experienced NHL executive. But would you buy a gros Mol’ from him?

Thanks to Gauthier’s predecessor, Bob Gainey, the team is in a nightmare salary cap situation, locked into long-term contracts with Gomez, Gionta and Cammalleri. Gauthier has compounded the problem by signing Andrei Markov for three seasons and taking on Tomas Kaberle’s contract.

To be fair to the GM, the Erik Cole deal looks good … and let’s hope we’re saying that three years from now.

But Gauthier is doomed, and he’s run out of people to fire in order to save his job.

As we assess the chances of the Canadiens harvesting 60 points from their remaining 47 games in order to possibly sneak into the playoffs, we can draw solace from one certainty:

If  there’s going to be a lottery draft pick in June, Pierre Gauthier won’t be calling out the kid’s name.

And because Michel Therrien was joking about it on L’Antichambre, here’s one that never gets old:

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