The Montreal Canadiens are Canada’s oldest Hockey team. From their formation in 1909, the idea behind the franchise was to represent Canada, and more specifically Quebec’s, Francophone community.
With more Stanley Cups than any of their rivals, in their instantly recognisable bleu, blanc et rouge ( red, white and blue colours), the Canadiens, also referred to as The Habs, are one the game’s biggest names. As the Montreal Canadiens embark on their 107th season, here is a quick look back at some of their biggest and most important regular season wins over the years.
Toronto St. Pats, 1920
Way, way back in January 1920, player coach Newsy Lalonde set the tone for a remarkable few months when he hit two during the opening period of the match against Toronto St. Pats meaning The Habs left the rink with a 6-1 lead. Lalonde wasn’t done there though as hit a further three in the game’s second period and another in the last as The Canadiens ran out 14-7 winners.
His six goals that night, at their then home the Mount Royal, still stands as a Habs record and has only been equalled elsewhere on seven other occasions. The 21 goals scored that night is also a still standing record, although one that was equalled by the Edmonton Oilers in 1985.
Quebec Bulldogs, 1920
In January of the same year, The Canadiens scored a still standing 16-3 win over fellow Quebecois The Bulldogs. Strangely, The Bulldogs, who had been formed ten years previously, dissolved that year and, apart from their unfortunate moment, have long been forgotten.
On the night, Bulldog’s keeper Frank Brophy was spared no mercy as Didier Pitre, Odie Cleghorn, Harry Cameron and Newsy Lalonde scored three or more each. Amos Arbour added two goals of his own in a game that, with a thirteen goal gap, remains the largest victory margin in franchise history. The team have never bettered the seven goals in a single twenty minute period they notched up that night, although they have matched it a further six times.
Fancy a punt on the pucks?
Many, many Canadian dollars are waged on the outcome of Hockey games, and in particular Canadiens’ matches, each year. In a game well known for its fiery confrontations, plenty of Ice Hockey fans want to add to the thrill of a sixty minute match by “making things interesting” and adding a bet or two.
Due to Canada’s regionally administered gambling laws, the easiest way to have a bet on the hockey match is by betting online. This can be done safely and securely by following this link where they have listed the best bookmakers for any Canuck that wants to wager on the Canadiens.
New York Rangers, 1944
The New York Rangers were on the receiving end of hockey perfection back in March 1944 when then coach Dick Irvin oversaw an 11-2 thrashing in one of The Habs greatest ever performances. In the last game of what had been an excellent season for The Canadiens, Maurice Richard, Elmer Lach and Toe Blake, known collectively as “The Punch Line“, all combined to score and put The Rangers brutally to the sword.
That performance capped a remarkable season for The Habs as they went the entire season undefeated at their home The Forum which, to this day, no other team has achieved. Across their 25 home games that season, they scored 141 ties, conceding only 50 with over twelve matches claimed by four or more goals.
Boston Bruins, 1955
While not being the highest scoring match in Habs’ history, this night back in November 1955 is significant for a player performance and the fallout thereafter. Jean Béliveau’s scored a remarkable hat trick in under a minute, 44 seconds to be precise – the fastest in Canadiens history. However, all three goals occurred during the same power play while the Boston Bruins, two goals ahead at the time, had two men in the serving time in the sin bin. The following season a rule changed was proposed that allows players serving minor penalties to return to play after a single goal has been scored in the power play. Unfortunately for the Bruins that was a season too late as “Le Gross Bill” completely turned the game around with three scores in the power play before adding insult to injury by netting a fourth before the end in a 4-2 win for the Canadiens.
Washington Capitals, 1977
On the final day of the 1976-77 season the Canadiens played host to the Washington Capitals in a game that would do justice to what had been a remarkable campaign. True to form, they smashed their visitors 11-0 to extend their unbeaten run at home to 34 games, setting an all-time record. Guy Lafleur, Bob Gainey, Steve Shutt and Guy Lapointe all hit the net on the night.
During that run, they managed to win six games by more than four goals, scoring 205 times, while restricting visiting sides to bag a measly 75 goals against them. Their one home defeat at The Forum that year, against the Boston Bruins, gave them a NHL record for fewest home defeats since the league’s inception more than fifty years previously.
Buffalo Sabres, 1988
With two games left in the season, Canadiens sniper Stephane Richer had 45 goals, and was chasing that elusive 50 goal plateau. With a home and home weekend set of games against the Buffalo Sabres to conclude the season, Richer scored hat-trick scoring three goals in a 9-4 romping over the Sabres. The next night, Richer was still two goals short of 50 goals, and sure enough Richer scored two goals against Tom Barrasso, becoming the 6th Canadien player to reach the 50 goal plateau.
New York Rangers, 1989
On February 4, 1989, the New York Rangers played the Montreal Canadiens. The game marked the return of Guy Lafleur but in a NY Rangers uniform. Lafleur had previously retired as a Canadien back in 1985, and made a successful comeback in 1988-89 with the NY Rangers. Although Lafleur thrilled fans with a pair of goals, the Canadiens, trailing 5-2 in the game, rallied back with the help of Shayne Corson’s hat-trick, to prevail 7-5.
Quebec Nordiques, 1991
The game marked Guy Lafleur’s final game at the Montreal Forum as Lafleur, now playing with the Quebec Nordiques, had announced he was retiring for good after the season. Although the Canadiens won the game 4-3, fans will remember the game as Guy Lafleur’s scoring his last goal in the NHL. (And I was there in person to witness it!!)
Dallas Stars, 1996
March 11, 1996 is a date that will forever be enshrined for Habs fans. It marked the final game played at the Montreal Forum, the home of the Montreal Canadiens for 23 of their 24 Stanley Cups. The Canadiens beat the Dallas Stars 4-1, but it’s the closing ceremonies that fans will always remember capped off with a 6 minute standing ovation to their legend, Maurice “The Rocket” Richard
New York Rangers, 1996
March 16, 1996, the Montreal Canadiens inaugurate their new home, the Molson Centre as the Canadiens beat the NY Rangers winning 4-2.
Ottawa Senators, 2002
April 9, 2002, Ottawa Senators visited Montreal but the 403 victory of the Canadiens was overshadowed by the return of the Canadiens’ Captain Saku Koivu, who returned to play after battling stomach cancer the previous 6 months. Koivu was welcomed back to an 8-minute standing ovation.
Colorado Avalanche, 2007
October 21, 2007, the game marked the return of their former MVP goalie Jose Theodore, who was traded the previous season to Colorado. The Canadiens trailed 3-0 at one point, when the comeback began. Canadiens went on to win 8-5, capped up by Craig Rivet, a stay at home defenceman, scoring on a breakaway when he came out of the penalty box.
New York Rangers, 2008
February 19, 2008, Habs treated their sell-out home crowd with what is the greatest comeback in Canadiens history. The Canadiens were losing 5-0, and with the 2nd period winding down, Michael Ryder scored two goals within a 5 minute span, trailing by three goals heading into the third period. Two goals within a nine-second span, cut the Rangers lead to 5-4, and Alex Kovalev scored on a Power Play to end the game 5-5 in regulation. The five-minute overtime settled nothing. And the game went to a shootout. Saku Koivu scored the lone goal in the shootout, and Christobal Huet stop all three shooters he faced including Jaromir Jagr, as the Canadiens capped off their biggest come from behind victory in club history.