It’s become clear since the Christmas break that the Canadiens are closer in talent to the teams behind them in the standings than they are among those who are just a ahead of them. That may make happy those who favour going into the tank through the final thirty-one games but it’s depressing the hard core fans to no end.

It’s become the never-ending story. Against Carolina Thursday night, a lot of individual hard work failed to produce a goal.

In the Canadiens last eight road games they have scored a total of eight goals while losing seven times. Three of those eight goals were scored against Washington. In the other seven games they’ve been shut out twice and scored one goal in five.

The Canadiens went into the game with a listed 1.7% chance of making the playoffs. It won’t be long until they will join Ottawa, Buffalo and Arizona at 0.0% chance.

UP THE MIDDLE

We’ve known for months that the Canadiens are woefully weak at the centre ice position. It was never more apparent then the way the Hurricanes centres outplayed the Canadiens at the position. We can start at faceoffs where the Canadiens won only 10 of 48, a depressing 21%.

The only line that seemed to hold it’s own was the one centered by Tomas Plekanec, probably because Brendan Gallagher was having another one of his nights. But, Carolina centres Jordan Staal and Victor Rask controlled the Paul Byron and Jonathan Drouin lines all night. Their shifts were featured by prolonged and often badly defended stretches inside the Canadiens blue line. I don’t know what to make of the fourth line centred by Byron Froese beyond the fact that they worked hard and totaled 13 hits in the game while playing against Carolina’s fourth line, which it should be mentioned was on the ice for the winning goal.

THE BLUELINE

Jordie Benn was back in the lineup and David Schlemko out. What’s with that? Presumably, Benn learned nothing while watching the Canadiens struggle in St. Louis because he again had major issues. When they were on the ice together, it was Benn who looked like the 19 year old rookie and Victor Mete the veteran.

Once again Jakub Jerabek caught my eye. Jeff Petry continues a string of excellent hockey since Shea Weber went down.

So who gets benched next? Does Claude Julien end Karl Alzner’s iron-man streak.

Considering the Canadiens hopeless status, wouldn’t a call-up of Noah Juulsen for a look be in order? Can’t be any worse that what we’re seeing.

DON’T BLAME THE GOALTENDER

Carey Price has been in an out over the last few weeks. He came into the game with an .878 save percentage over his last seven starts and one victory. But he was good in this game. He had to be. But in the end, thanks to the popgun offense in front of him, he has been on the losing side for seven of his last eight starts.

WORTH MENTIONING

….Not that it did them any good, the Canadiens outhit the Hurricanes 54-21. In that department, Deslauriers, Carr and Froese led the way with five apiece.

….Paul Byron may be the centre on the line but Charles Hudon, who started his pro career as a centre, takes the faceoffs. He won 4 of 11. Drouin 2 of 9. Froese was 0 for 8.

….Petry, Gallagher and Pacioretty led the way with 4 shots on goal apiece.

….I mentioned I liked Jerabek’s game. He had three hits and three blocked shots. He also made some good plays from his own end.

MOVING ON

Super Bowl weekend. Anaheim at the Bell Centre on Saturday afternoon and Ottawa on Sunday. The way things are going, the Ottawa game may be a real test. Those games are two of only three home games the Canadiens have in a ten game span over the next 3 ½ weeks.