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 22-10-3 record into a game against the Hartford Whalers on Dec. 21, 1992 at the Forum. Below is Red Fisher’s story from that game:
`Stupid … stupid’ loss to Whalers
Kirk Muller had a few words for this one – over and over again.
“We do things nice and simple,” he muttered. “We put a few wins together playing that way, dumping the puck in and chasing it. Now, this: stupid … stupid.”
Muller was talking this way after last night’s richly deserved 5-2 loss to the struggling Hartford Whalers. So was Mathieu Schneider, who scored the second Canadiens goal and wasn’t on the ice for any of Hartford’s:
“We’ve been winning by dumping the puck into the other team’s zone. We’ve been winning by jumping on them in their zone, by getting the puck out of our zone quickly. I don’t think we did it once tonight,” said Schneider.
“We were out-worked.”
“Out-played, too,” added Muller.
Strange game, isn’t it? Almost funny, at times.
Here, after all, was an assignment tailored and measured by Canadiens coach Jacques Demers for Andre Racicot several days ago. The kid has to play, Demers pointed out.
So who’s in the nets against the Hartford Whalers last night at his own request? More important, what did Patrick Roy bring to the arena on this night?
Roy was tight-lipped, showered and gone in a matter of minutes last night, so there would not be any monologues from the National Hockey League’s best goaltender – who didn’t play like one on this night. However, it didn’t require a giant intellect to understand that this was a night when the Canadiens, as a team, simply came up with empty pockets.
It was also one on which the Whalers were full value for their victory.
Put it another way: the easy thing would be to say that the first- place Canadiens lost this one because they were plain lousy. It would be easy, all right, but it would also be taking something away from a group of Hartford young bloods who deserved everything they got.
“They’ve got 20 guys out there who are playing in the National Hockey League for a reason,” said Schneider. “They’ve got some good, young players who’ve probably been told that if they play well, they’ll stay, and if they don’t, they’re gone.
“At the end of the season, we’ll probably look back on this one and say hey, if we had won, we might have finished first over-all or first in the division, or whatever. You take somebody lightly on any night, and the chances are pretty good you’re gonna lose. We took ‘em lightly.”
Goaltending was what this game was all about in a scoreless first period. A comedy of errors, largely by the Canadiens, was what most of the last two periods were all about, particularly the third. That’s when Eric Weinrich, Terry Yake and Pat Verbeek, who had opened the scoring in the second period, undressed Roy for goals in fewer than two minutes. Michael Nylander also scored for the Whalers, while Brian Bellows beat a splendid Sean Burke for the Canadiens’ first goal midway through the second.
Mark down Hartford’s third-period outburst as good work on their part, although the only thing major-league by the Canadiens on several of the goals were their blunders.
Weinrich’s goal, for example, was an outgrowth of mass confusion in the defensive zone which eventually left the Hartford defenceman alone in the slot.
Yake’s was a matter of the Hartford player leaping on a loose puck which bounced over Kevin Haller’s stick.
Roy was in a rare gift-giving mood on the Verbeek goal.
The Whalers probably aren’t going anywhere this season. There’s still time, of course, if their kids’ corps, led by Geoff Sanderson and goaltender Burke, can improve or, at least, maintain their recent uplifting work.
Something like last night sharpens the senses and lifts the spirits.
Why wouldn’t it?
Here, after all, are the Adams division leaders at home, fat and sassy and ready to administer the chop-chop on a Whalers team which has been gasping for air. The league’s best goaltender even asked – demanded, maybe – to play.
“Stupid … stupid,” hissed Muller.