Montreal Canadiens are going through a challenging time in their history, having now finished outside of the top three of the Atlantic Division for the past three seasons lets have a look at the best Montreal Canadiens moments.
Twice they have failed to qualify for the playoffs, and last season they scraped into the Stanley Cup matches with the lowest points average of all 24 qualifying teams. A win in the qualifying round against Pittsburgh Penguins proved to be a false dawn, as they were beaten by Philadelphia Flyers in the first round, 4-2.
This season promises to be a similar struggle, as they are ranked as outsiders by Bwin Sports for the coming year’s Stanley Cup. However, with 24 wins, they are historically the most successful team in the NHL, with 11 more wins than Toronto Maple Leafs. That means history is littered with great moments for the Habs and, with another campaign of struggle ahead, it is worth casting an eye over these great moments for fans to remember exactly how good the team once was, and could be again.
Red Army Game – 1975
Not a Stanley Cup moment, but the visit of the famed Red Army prompted the Habs to go on their run of dominance in the seventies. The Soviet squad featured Valeri Kharlamov, Boris Mikhailov and goaltending legend Vladislav Tretiak, and they had already defeated New York Rangers 7-3. In a game remembered as one of the most exciting ever to take place on the ice, the teams tied at 3-3, but the Habs went on to win the 1976 Stanley Cup on the back of it, a feat they repeated in ’77, ’78 and ’79.
Guy Lafleur – 1979
The 1979 win gave them a fourth win in a row, but it could have been worse had it not been for Guy Lafleur. The Bruins were 4-3 in game seven of the 1979 semi-final, with the Habs on the powerplay. Lafleur blasted up the ice and took a punt from the top of the circle, beating Gulles Gilbert to tie at 4-4 with 1:41 left in the third period. That led to overtime and a goal by Yvon Lamebert to send them through to the final, where the Rangers were easily defeated 4-1.
Patrick Roy – 1986
After the four successive wins in the late seventies, the turn of the decade saw the Habs struggle to repeat their dominance. All of that changed in 1986, after brushing aside Boston Bruins and Hartford Whalers, New York Rangers stood between them and the Stanley Cup finals. Heading into the third game, they were up two against the Rangers, and Roy turned in one of the finest goaltending displays of all time to help them to a 4-1 series win. Calgary Flames awaited in the final, with Roy’s heroics eventually leading to another 4-1 win.
The Last Time – 1993
1993 brought the last Stanley Cup win the Habs way, but it is certainly one of the most memorable too. There are so many iconic moments from the playoffs that year, Patrick Roy’s wink at Tomas Sandstrom, Eric Desjardins record-breaking hattrick, and the illegal stick penalty too. The Habs even won 10 straight games en route to their 24th, and final championship, in a series that is fondly recalled today. Defeating a 32-year-old Wayne Gretzky and 125-point man Luc Robitialle in the Los Angeles Kings’ side added a gloss to a huge moment in the team’s history.