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 23-13-3 record into a game against the Flames on Dec. 31, 1992 in Calgary. Below is Red Fisher’s story from that game:
Skrudland in the doghouse; Demers steams as penalty lets Flames rally
LOS ANGELES – Jacques Demers galloped into the new year out of patience, and in the mood to make at least one of his veterans pay the price for it.
The object of his disaffection is Brian Skrudland – largely because of two penalties Skrudland has taken – in Sunday’s 5-2 loss in Vancouver and Thursday’s 5-3 loss to the Calgary Flames. Both penalties led to goals which even Skrudland is prepared to call a turning point in the games.
The price Skrudland will pay is to sit out tonight’s game against the slumping Los Angeles Kings.
“I’ve been one of his biggest boosters,” said Demers yesterday, “because I know what he means to this hockey team. But I’ve run out of patience. I realize he’s frustrated, but he can’t take penalties like that.”
The Canadiens were trailing the Canucks only 2-1 in Sunday’s third period when Skrudland was caught interfering with Vancouver goaltender Kirk McLean. Thirty-eight seconds later, Pavel Bure lashed an angled shot beyond Patrick Roy, and while Kevin Haller scored in the 12th minute to lift the Canadiens within one, two empty-net goals left them dead in the water.
In the Vancouver game, the Canadiens had fallen behind 2-0 and almost made it back. On Thursday, however, they took a 2-0 lead into the second period (goals by J.J. Daigneault and Gilbert Dionne) when The Skrudland Factor arose.
The Canadiens, Skrudland among them, had just finished killing off a minor penalty to Kirk Muller without allowing a shot at goalie Roy, when Skrudland cross-checked Calgary forward Joel Otto. Referee Don Koharski, standing only a few feet away, didn’t hesitate to signal another minor to the Canadiens.
Twenty-one seconds later, defenceman Gary Suter teed up the puck at the blue line, and beat Roy cleanly. A little more than three minutes later, C.J. Young tied the game only seconds after the Flames had killed off a penalty to Gary Roberts.
“I thought we had really dominated in the first period,” said Demers. “We worked hard and it paid off with two goals. We also worked hard killing off the penalty early in the second period. They didn’t get a shot while we were shorthanded, and then Skrudland opens it up for them with that penalty.”
“It wasn’t a good penalty,” agreed Skrudland, “and I heard about it between periods. But I feel the next thing we’ve got to do is stick together and try to get the goal back.”
As it developed, the Canadiens didn’t do the job. Instead, Michel Petit, Joe Nieuwendyk and Young put away the game with goals in the third period before Brian Bellows slipped a power-play goal beyond Mike Vernon.
Goaltender Roy also had his problems against the soaring Flames – even though he faced only 28 shots. Young’s second goal of the game – the only two he’s scored this season – was from the circle and through Roy’s legs. Worse, the Canadiens goalie was uncertain on at least a couple of other earlier goals.
Is it any wonder, then, that Demers is giving serious thought to relinquishing his Mr. Nice Guy tiara?
Trouble is, who’s available?
Since Skrudland is out, who’s in?
Does Mario Roberge charge to the rescue? Does defenceman Daigneault move up the line to left wing again, leaving a spot open for defencemen Sean Hill or Haller, who didn’t dress against the Flames.
Demers obviously doesn’t have too many options – particularly against a Los Angeles team which has been going through a terrible time in recent weeks. The Kings were riding high in the saddle until they lost a 5-2 lead to the Canadiens in Phoenix on Dec. 8 with less than 10 minutes remaining in regulation time. The teams finished the game locked up 5-5.
Since then, the Kings have been left embarrassed with a 1-7-1 record. They’ve been out-scored, 44-26. In their last two games, they’ve been out-scored 14-2.
“Do you think they might be fired up for us?” asked Demers.
(Photo by Marie-France Coallier/The Gazette)