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 an 18-7-3 record into a game against the Blackhawks on Dec. 6, 1992 in Chicago. Below is Red Fisher’s story from that game:
Canadiens come up short
CHICAGO – A funny thing happened to the Canadiens on their first and only visit of the season to Chicago Stadium: Brian Skrudland played, but too many of his colleagues didn’t.
What’s interesting, though, is that Skrudland – who has no complaints over his ice time – insists there wasn’t enough of him in this 2-0 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.
“I think I should have been more of a leader. I should have been a sparkplug. These guys,” he said with a wave of his hand around the room, “played last night in Winnipeg. I didn’t. There should have been more of me in this game.”
Skrudland is overstating the case, of course.
For one thing, he wasn’t even due to play until tomorrow in Phoenix against the Los Angeles Kings. For another, only the excellence of Patrick Roy avoided an acute embarrassment for Skrudland and Friends, rather than the modest loss they suffered.
This one could have been over shortly after it began while the Blackhawks went about the business of locking an iron fist around the game with first-period goals from Steve Larmer and Christian Ruuttu. There could have been more, largely because the Blackhawks grabbed the game by the throat from the start and rarely loosened their grip – although the Canadiens gave as much as they received in the last two periods.
“Five or six goals is what they could have scored,” said general manager Serge Savard.
More, maybe, among the 17 shots Roy faced in the first, 31 in all.
“It happens on some nights,” shrugged Roy. “A guy plays well and his team loses. We go on.”
Skrudland played last night with Denis Savard and Gilbert Dionne, who was another surprise starter. Savard, however, wasn’t around for the third period after high-sticking Frantisek Kucera near the end of the second. Savard also was provided with a major penalty to go along with his ejection.
The Blackhawks came out of the first period with a 17-9 margin in shots, and the best thing to be said about it was that they were grateful for little mercies.
Put it this way: if Roy was anything less than at the very top of his game (he stopped 10 Chicago shots while the Canadiens were delivering only one at Jimmy Waite in the first four minutes) it’s bye-bye.
“Sometimes, you get those nights,” said Roy. “I feel pretty good about coming out of the first 10 shots without allowing a goal, but it was a tough game from start to finish.”
Roy hasn’t played better in any game this season, despite the loss. But what often happens in games like these, is that the first goal is a soft one – all the more so when it’s short-handed.
Larmer was responsible for spoiling the party a little more than seven minutes into the game, and by that time, the Blackhawks had flung a dozen shots at Roy. Now, though, Chicago – which incurred the only two penalties of the first period – was going about the business of killing off one. Brent Sutter, who’s been there before, knocks Mathieu Schneider off the puck and leaves it for Larmer. His short shot was stoppable, but it appeared that Roy caught only a piece of it.
Roy, on the other hand, had no chance whatever on the Ruuttu goal, his 11th, roughly two and a half minutes later. A short rebound had fallen at his feet, with no defender within a time zone of him. No contest.
In any assessment of what happened last night, this one was yet another example of the Canadiens playing a dangerous game. Catchup hockey, in other words. It’s worked well against some of the NHL’s less-talented teams, but the Blackhawks are made of quality stuff. If they give an inch, they make certain it’s only an inch.
Catchup hockey doesn’t do well against teams like these, particularly when Waite is on his game. He produced the game’s best save, for example, when he stopped Eric Desjardins from close in late in the second period.
It’s a period which also happened to be the Canadiens’ best. It goes like this: Roy clearly was the only reason they were alive after the first – long enough to allow them at least a few high moments in the second.
As it developed, though, there weren’t nearly enough of them. They got the job done the night before, beating the Winnipeg Jets 3-2 in overtime after falling behind 2-0, but the Blackhawks are made of sterner stuff.
(Photo by John Mahoney/The Gazette)