As we wait and hope for an end to the NHL lockout, we’ll let Canadiens fans relive the 1992-93 season when the Habs won the last of their 24 Stanley Cups by posting game stories from that season.
The Habs took a 1-2-1 record into Pittsburgh on Oct. 15, 1992 to take on the Penguins and Mario Lemieux.
Here is Red Fisher’s story from that game:
Penguins beat hard-working Canadiens
PITTSBURGH – Was it only a couple of mornings ago that Denis Savard was delivering a brief monologue to his associates in the moments after a break-of-dawn practice at the Forum?
They had been rolled out of their bunks by platoon commander Jacques Demers at a gosh-awful hour in time to sit in on a 6 a.m. meeting and a 7 a.m. practice. After it, Savard was saying:
“I hope you guys know why we’re here. We haven’t been playing. We’re not doing the right things. We’re not winning. Let’s get our act together, eh?”
“I just wanted to tell them we had ourselves to blame for being on the ice at that time,” Savard said after last night’s 5-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. “I wanted to tell them we can play a lot better than we had in the first four games … that we had to work for it.”
The good news is that the message got through.
Unfortunately, somebody forgot to tell the Penguins.
This bunch is awfully good – which is the principal reason for whatever it is that happened here last night. Another: Patrick Roy had his problems in the first period when Pittsburgh got goals from Kevin Stevens, Ron Francis and Jaromir Jagr.
That, needless to say, doesn’t make Roy unique among goaltenders who’ll be facing the Penguins this season.
The Canadiens came to play on this night, but what’s to be done when Pittsburgh shows up as well? Or, more to the point, the Mario Lemieux-Jagr-Stevens line drops in for a visit, while Tom Barrasso takes care of the stretch limo?
History will note that the Canadiens (Oleg Petrov) opened the scoring when he was sent in by Savard. It was Petrov’s first National Hockey League goal, after several near misses in previous games, but Stevens didn’t miss a blink in time (16 seconds) later when he beat Roy with Pittsburgh’s fourth shot.
Neither did Francis three minutes later on Pittsburgh’s fifth shot – which is what this scoring machine is all about. The Penguins strike quickly … and then do it again before the bleeding stops. Result: it rarely does – particularly when Barrasso is on his game.
He was there two minutes into the second period, for example, when Brian Bellows swept in alone. The goal would have lifted the Canadiens to within a goal of the Penguins, but what almost always happens is that when an opportunity to get back in a game is missed, the opposition doesn’t miss putting it away shortly thereafter.
Yeah, Lemieux … stuffing the puck beyond Roy while Bellows was paying far too much attention to Troy Loney at the Canadiens blue line. It seems he was trying to settle accounts for what he perceived to be an unfair tactic of one form or another.
What this skirmish came down to last night, basically, was that the Canadiens came to the arena with a generous work ethic – but it wasn’t nearly enough for this splendid Penguins team, particularly because Roy had a few problems.
A problem for Roy is when he’s thinking so much about the Penguins’ individual stars, he’s caught making uncharacteristic plays.
For example, even Roy probably can’t remember the last time he committed himself so early to, let’s say, the Jagr goal.
This chap named Lemieux had delivered a soft pass to Jagr at the boards, whereupon the team’s latest millionaire started cutting across the ice toward Roy. Jagr was still several stick lengths from Roy when the Canadiens goaltender started moving out of his net, which isn’t recommended at any time against someone as large and as talented as the Czechoslovak star.
What he did, of course, was cut beyond the falling Roy, and slip the puck into the chasm awaiting him.
Roy wasn’t particularly notable, either, on the game’s only power- play goal early in the third period. It seemed he had the puck trapped in his crease, but Shawn McEachern was allowed to nudge the puck beyond Roy.
That’s yet another example of what the Penguins are all about. While McEachern was allowed to stand in front of Roy, the Samuelssons, Ulf and Kjell, were having an interesting time cleaning out traffic directly in front of Barrasso. They simply don’t like the idea of having people stand around taking shots at their goaltender – a view shared by others such as Larry Murphy and even one-time Quebec Nordiques defenceman Bryan Fogarty. However, Kirk Muller did manage to beat Barrasso late in the period.
It all comes down to size. The Penguins use it because they have it. The Canadiens don’t.
(Photo by John Mahoney/The Gazette)