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 22-13-3 record into a game against the Oilers on Dec. 29 1992 in Edmonton. Below is Red Fisher’s story from that game:
Habs embarrass once-fearsome Oilers
EDMONTON – Earlier yesterday, hockey’s most successful general manager of the ’80s was delivering a sombre message:
“There’s only only one way we can go,” Glen Sather was saying, “and that’s up. Nowhere else.”
Sather may have been understating the case if last night’s 6-3 loss to the Canadiens is a measure of what his Oilers have been – and are – this season. If those were the real Oilers last night, is it any wonder that this embarrassment attracted only the second sellout of the season? Is there any reason to expect a third?
What could Ted Green have been thinking about, leaning on crutches behind his bench, trying to light a fire under his underachievers.
Here, after all, was a prideful leader who had been released from a hospital only hours earlier after surgery on his knees. He was there, but where were they – except for Bill Ranford, who kept his associates alive until he ran out of juice in the second period, when the Canadiens scored on their 26th, 30th and 33rd shots.
Where were they when he allowed three more goals in the third period?
Ranford was the only reason the Canadiens didn’t put it away in the first period while the Oilers were being outshot, 19-7, yet still came out of the period with a 2-0 lead on goals by Greg Hawgood and Petr Klima.
Mathieu Schneider, Denis Savard and Vincent Damphousse solved the Ranford Riddle in the second period, and while Brent Gilchrist got one back before the period’s end, Damphousse, Brian Bellows and Kirk Muller put away the Oilers and Ranford in the final period.
“The good thing about this game,” coach Jacques Demers was to mention, “is that we got goals from players who are supposed to score – particularly on the road. If you don’t get goals from Damphousse, Bellows, Muller and Savard, you’re in trouble.”
The Canadiens would have been in deep trouble if they hadn’t managed to get to Ranford in the second and third periods. For one thing, it would have sent them into tomorrow’s New Year’s Eve game in Calgary with a four-game losing streak against one of the National Hockey League’s most accomplished teams.
“We’ve got to feel a lot better about everything now,” said Demers.
Were the Canadiens that good on a night when they outshot the Oilers 36-18 after two periods, yet went into the third period, locked up 3-3?
“I felt we were ready,” shrugged Schneider, once again the best of the Canadiens. “On the other hand, I’m not too sure they were.”
Schneider has that right.
It’s true that most of traffic was in the Edmonton zone almost from start to finish, which says much for a team which fell behind 2-0 fewer than three minutes into the game. On the other hand, what this game was mostly about was error piled upon error by the people in front of him – none greater than Damphousse’s shorthanded goal – and winner – 67 seconds into the third period.
It started with goaltender Ranford being bodychecked out of his crease by one of his own defenders. Then, Savard took two whacks at a loose puck before Damphousse finally slipped it into an open area.
It was, in every way, a comedy of errors by a franchise which once dominated the game.
How did Andre Racicot do on this night?
It goes like this: more and more, there is a sameness about Racicot which needs attention before too long if playing at the major league level is what he has in mind.
On too many nights, the opposition gets to him too quickly.
In his last start against the New York Rangers, a 10-5 debacle, he was beaten on the first two shots.
In Winnipeg, a game he went on to win in splendid fashion – two goals on the first two shots.
Last night, Hawgood leaps off the bench to replace Chris Joseph during an Edmonton power play, and the game’s first shot from just inside the blue line beats him. It’s true that Racicot was screened on the shot, but – one shot, one goal.
Sixteen seconds later, a sharply-angled shot by Klima deflected off Stephan Lebeau beyond Racicot. Two shots – two goals.
Is it a lack of confidence? Nervousness? The fact that he’s not provided with game action often enough?
It’s imagined coach Demers will look into that particular shortcoming, but nobody was counting last night in the wake of a game which could have been lost early and eventually was won big time.
The Oilers were an embarrassment, as general manager Sather was saying. On the other hand, an outpouring of 50 shots – the Canadiens’ highest total of the season – is a notable achievement, even against an inferior team.
NOTES – Jacques Demers was counting on Kevin Lowe going to the Canadiens, not the New York Rangers.
“It’s awfully disappointing. I really thought it was going to happen,” said Demers. “We have such a young defence. I think our average age is 22.5 years. I know he would have helped our kids. I was going to play him with Patrice Brisebois.”
Demers had gone through several scenarios in his head about how to use Lowe.
“He wasn’t going to practice every day,” he said. “We would have given him a lot of days off. To me, his strength is he knows how to win in the playoffs.”
The Canadiens have lost in the second round the last three seasons.
(Postmedia News file photo)