As we wait and hope for an end to the NHL lockout, Canadiens fans can relive the 1992-93 season – the last year the Habs won the Stanley Cup – at HIO as we post game stories from that season.
The Habs took a 6-3-2 record into a game against the New York Rangers on Oct. 31, Halloween night, in 1992 at the Forum. Here is Red Fisher’s story from that game:
Keane gives Canadiens big assist(s)
Mike Keane, who has merely been splendid thus far this season, insists he can play better.
Stephan Lebeau, who has been Keane’s playmate for the last six games – all part of a 6-0-1 roll by the Canadiens – adds this:
“I think we can play better,” he was saying after last night’s 4-3 victory over the New York Rangers.
Keane could be right, when it’s considered that he played in only three training camp games and has missed some practice time with a four-day suspension. Lebeau is partly right – at least where last night’s game is concerned.
Translation: the Canadiens, as a team, can’t play better than they did in the first period against the powerful Rangers. They outshot them 19-9, got goals from Lebeau and Kevin Haller, and Keane assisted on both. They also can’t play better than they did in the early minutes of the second period, when they padded their lead on goals from Brian Bellows and Mario Roberge.
“I think I can shoot a little more,” said Keane. “I think I can help the line more – Lebeau and Big John (LeClair) when he gets his marbles together again.”
LeClair left the game with what management later described as a slight concussion after going the Razor Ruddock route following a squeaky clean, shattering bodycheck from large-sized Jeff Beaukeboom.
“Slight concussion?” asked Keane much later. “Let’s just say that’s gotta be a misprint. He doesn’t remember the last month!”
The reason Keane was talking this way was because of the way LeClair talked. For one thing, he asked Brian Skrudland a number of times why he wasn’t playing, which is a strange question to ask someone who hasn’t played since the 30-second mark of the season.
“Anyway, when John comes back, we should have a good line going,” agreed Lebeau. “We should also have the whole team going well, because everything about this team has been so much better this year. The atmosphere is good. I’m having fun. All of us are having fun.”
So did most of the audience, even though the Rangers rallied for two goals from Mike Gartner in the second period, and Darren Turcotte raised a few hairs on the napes of a few necks after beating Patrick Roy with fewer than three minutes remaining.
For now, at least, everything about this skirmish at the summit has to do with the Canadiens coming together as a team. It is one thing to hold off the Tampa Bay Lightning, as the Canadiens did on Wednesday, or handle Philadelphia, 7-6. This, though, was no mere stroll in the park – and against a quality team which last season finished No. 1 over-all. What it was, for the first 25 minutes, at least, was outright domination. The Rangers had no part of this.
Not, at least, from the time Lebeau worked overtime to beat John Vanbiesbrouck a little more than two minutes into the game, and onward to Haller’s goal, on which Lebeau contributed a considerable amount of industry.
It was no less one-sided in the early minutes of the second period (how’s a 26-9 margin in shots five minutes into the period?). It was during the early minutes of the period that Bellows and Roberge (yeah, Mario) lifted the Canadiens into a 4-0 lead before Gartner scored the first of his two goals.
If there was an unsettling note in the game, it was that the Rangers were allowed to get back into it with the Gartner goals. For more than 25 minutes, the Rangers still hadn’t left the team bus. Then, for some reason, the air went out of the balloon.
Was it a matter of the Canadiens falling into a defensive shell, as they have in other recent games? Did the Rangers finally report?
“I didn’t think we went into a defensive shell,” said Mathieu Schneider, who now appears capable of turning on offence and defence almost at will. “Maybe we got a little too fancy now and then, got a few penalties we didn’t need, but I thought we had our scoring chances.”
In the final analysis, it was probably a combination of both. Give the Rangers some room, and they’ll bury you. Blink an eye at Gartner, who’s now No. 9 on the all-time goal-scoring list, and it’s curtains.
Happily for the Canadiens, their condition wasn’t terminal, although the collars may have tightened somewhat when Turcotte beat Roy.
Piece of cake, eh?
(Photo by Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images)