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 21-10-3 record into a game against the Buffalo Sabres on Dec. 19, 1992 at the Forum. Below is Red Fisher’s story from that game:
LeClair hears Savard’s message
Canadiens management, it seems, isn’t asking a lot from John LeClair. In truth, not even much.
It starts, general manager Serge Savard was saying, with asking the real John LeClair to stand up more often than he has.
“All we’ve asked him to do,” said Savard after last night’s 4-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres, “is to get involved. He falls down a lot, I know, but he has to get involved.
“I mean … he’s got all the tools, right? He’s big. He’s strong. He’s probably got the hardest shot on the team.
“He’s got to do that and be more consistent,” said Savard.
That’s the message Savard delivered to LeClair several days ago in a nose-to-nose meeting which could have ended with Mons. LeClair joining Gilbert Dionne and Ed Ronan on the Fredericton Express. Happily for LeClair, Savard doesn’t hold a grudge.
He stayed, and last night was among the best of the Canadiens forwards in a game in which the Canadiens weren’t very good. Happily for Savard’s bunch, the Sabres were much worse.
The best thing to be said about this one is that the Canadiens leaped into a 2-0 first period lead with goals from Brian Bellows and Mathieu Schneider. Denis Savard added another in the second before Wayne Presley got Buffalo’s first goal during a Canadiens power play in the period’s final minute.
Vincent Damphousse and Alexander Mogilny were the goal-scorers in the third period.
On this night, at least, the troops did it the way the coach’s manual wants it done.
Make the most of the breaks quickly, like the time LeClair (there’s that man again) gloved a clearing shot, dropped the puck to the ice, fed Kirk Muller who re-directed it to Bellows – and that’s one!
The goal came in the third minute, and Schneider’s ninth goal of the season was unloaded roughly four minutes later. Nothing fancy: a blast from the blue line. Goal!
Can anybody explain the Savard goal in the second, though?
Imagine for a moment, Savard standing roughly 15 feet away from Hasek late in the second period. At least two people wearing Sabres overwear are only a few feet away. In other words, there was more than enough time to get in the way of anything Savard had in mind.
So there’s Savard, whose first idea is to tee up the shot. Then he changes it – his mind, that is. Then, it’s back to teeing it up. Finally, he shoots, and the puck somehow slips through Hasek’s legs.
That should have been enough to leave the Sabres dead in the water, but the Canadiens still appear to have a talent for getting things done the hard way. Is there any other way to explain the shorthanded goal allowed by the Canadiens with less than a minute remaining in the second period?
The problem arose when Damphousse’s bad pass allowed Presley to sweep in alone on Patrick Roy. Presley, who went into the game with six goals, made it look easy.
This was a game in which emotions rose and fell now and then, but the Sabres – who are big enough and strong enough – won’t retain it among their treasured memories.
Example: it’s the 16th minute of the second period, and sticks and elbows get a little high in front of goaltender Hasek. The only two combatants, however, are Mario Roberge and Pat LaFontaine, which is a strange and fairly one-sided matchup at any time.
However, when a noted hit man, which Roberge happens to be, is roughing up a team’s best player, which LaFontaine surely is, the book says one of two things must happen. The first is that someone on the ice intercedes on LaFontaine’s behalf. The second is that one of the Canadiens’ better players must pay the price.
Like it or not, those are the unwritten rules. The fact that Sabres personnel chose to sit this one out says something about a team which had been nearly everyone’s choice to finish as high as second place in the Adams.
Something, but not much.
(Gazette file photo)