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 7-3-2 record into a game against the Winnipeg Jets on Nov. 2, 1992 at the Forum. Here is Red Fisher’s story from that game:
Canadiens eke out a victory; Habs bear down for Racicot
Canadiens general manager Serge Savard wants to know what all the hand-wringing is about.
“Since training camp and even before that,” he was saying after last night’s 2-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets, “all I’ve been hearing about is our backup goaltending. How are we supposed to win when Patrick Roy isn’t playing? Why haven’t the Canadiens sold the store to get a backup goaltender? Why did we ever let Brian Hayward get away?
“Hey, wasn’t anybody listening to me last week when I said we’ve been unfair to Andre Racicot? We put him in a game in Buffalo and he gets 50 shots. The next game is in Philadelphia and that was our fourth game in six nights.
“Look, he was the best in the American Hockey League last year and that’s why he’s here. I’ve got the best in the league in Fredericton right now in Les Kuntar. Why do I have to rush to the telephone?
“Racicot knows how I feel. So do the the players. All I want is that my coach play him 10, maybe 15 games in the first 40 to see how he does behind a fresh team,” said Savard. “Let’s give the kid a fair test and then see what we’ve got. Right now, I’m very comfortable with him.”
Savard, needless to say, was in the comfort zone last night, even though Racicot wasn’t tested severely among the 22 shots he faced. He gave up Winnipeg’s only goal in the first period to Fredrik Olausson, and then coasted the rest of the way behind a team which did a man-sized job of bearing down in front of him from start to finish.
In other words, these Canadiens chaps listen, because wasn’t it only a little more than a week ago that the Canadiens, as a team, had a message delivered to them by the new man behind the bench?
“Bear down,” Jacques Demers told his players. “You’ve got to bear down for the kid.”
The kid was goaltender Racicot, who eventually came out of the game with a 7-6 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. The win was welcome. The hair-raising finish which almost had the Flyers overcoming a three-goal deficit wasn’t.
“I didn’t feel he got nearly enough help from the other players. I told them after the first period they had to bear down, but they didn’t,” said Demers.
In other words, Demers and general manager Savard are on the same wavelength. And last night, so were the Candiens as a team – grizzly bear-down style. So much so, they almost forgot about putting enough on the board to win a game which extends their current streak to 7-0-1.
The Jets didn’t get their first shot on Racicot until the 15th minute of the first period. At the same time, the Canadiens had tested Bob Essensa with nine hot shots and a flood of near misses.
The Canadiens spent so much time bearing down for dear old Andre, whose goals-against average plunged to 5 from 7, it wasn’t until nearly the 17-minute mark of the second period that Denis Savard and Benoit Brunet scored within 44 seconds.
Racicot did all right last night. At the very least, give him marks for staring down the Jets in his first home start of the season despite extreme pressure.
What is it they say about shots on goal? Consider these numbers:
The Jets didn’t get their first shot on Racicot until the 14:10 mark, and there’s some doubt that it was even on the net. By that time, the Canadiens had four or five which would have beaten a goaltender on most nights. There were scrambles. There was heaving and pushing and jostling in the Winnipeg goal crease. There were a couple of occasions when Essensa was out of position, but was fortunate enough to have a colleague or two doing the clearing for him.
What almost always happens in these cases, of course, is that the team which has been flayed and roughed up and out-played eventually reaches another level for the game’s first goal. Olausson’s didn’t come until the period’s final minute when the Jets enjoyed a manpower advantage. He was stopped momentarily at his blueline, recovered, moved in several steps and beat Racicot cleanly.
Roy, of course, gets the call in Detroit tomorrow. Nobody, including Racicot, is likely to complain.
(Gazette file photo)