Just a little context to go along with this afternoon's contest, should the game be a dog, or if American Idol doesn't prove to be compelling enough.
It's no secret that long ago, our dear Canucks were ubercrap. As with most expansion teams, success was few and far between. Nothing underscored that more than when the Canucks would meet up with Les Habitants. Ass-kickings of the highest order were the norm. Not so much the first season,when our lads actually played the Canadiens to a standstill. Twice! I believe my Dad and my grandfather went to the tie here, while I listened under the covers to the radio. 3-3 was the score, and the old PC was jumping.
I was so excited, when Dad got home I jumped out of bed and made him tell me all about the game.
Subsequent seasons were filled with Montreal winning with scores like 6-0, 7-0, etc,, etc. The 'Nucks would score the odd victory over the Bruins, the Leafs, the Hawks, but came up dry against Montreal. Granted, sending the likes of Boudrias, Ververgaert and Dunc Wilson against Lafleur, Cournoyer and Dryden, it was probably to be expected. Not much gnashing of teeth in our household, though. These losses upset me no end, being a little kid and all, but they made my Dad really happy, at least in that first year. He was a HUGE John Ferguson fan, maybe because they were both east Van kids. I don't know if they ever crossed paths, I've never thought to ask my Dad. From what I know of Fergie, and my old man, they did seem to be cut from the same cloth. You know, throw first, ask questions later.
Suddenly, Fergie retired, and the old man shunned the Habs. I'm not going to call him a Canucks fan, because I'm pretty sure he's never once uttered a positive word about the Canucks. Ever. In 40 years. The beatings they suffered contributed to that, I'm sure. They lost close, they lost big. They blew leads, they would rally, only to fall short at the final buzzer, or that cursed siren that wailed at the Forum. Galivan and Irvin, how I cursed thee. The best play-calling tandem in NHL history became the soundtrack of another classic Canuck fail.
This continued until the '74-'75 season. Somehow, somewhere the Canucks learned how to win. Riding on the back of Gary Smith( 6 freaking shutouts), Andre Boudrias( that team record of assists that lasted 30 years), and the sniping of Don Lever (38 goals) and John Gould(34 goals), the Canucks managed to win 38 times and capture the Smythe division crown. in those days, first place got you a bye into the second round. Guess who we get? Yep, them stinkin' Frenchmen. This was going to be worse than a Newfie on a baby seal. So much talent, they seemed unbeatable. So the first game goes as per usual, 6-2 Habs, Lafleur a 4 point night, yada, yada, yada. God let's get this over with.
Game 2. First period goes well,but we've seen this movie before. Second period, Doug Risebrough and Gerry O'Flaherty trade goals, Suitcase playing unconscious. Third period, Canadiens coming in waves, Canucks holding on for dear life. Suddenly, just over minutes to go, Garry Monahan pops in a goal. It was a good night to be Irish. canucks hang on to win. First win over Montreal. Ever. My Dad might have let out a yell or three, something to the effect of not liking Frenchies. He's a redneck, what can I say? I downed one of his Old Styles, God that stuff tasted good to a 13 year old. Unbelievable. We beat the motherfucking Habs, in Montreal, in the playoffs.
The rest of the series went to form, the Canucks bowing out 4 games to 1. Sucky part was Montreal lost the next round to Buffalo, who made the finals against the Flyers. Remember the fog game? I think the bat game was in this series, too. Anyway, I digress. For one shining, wonderful evening, we had taken the measure of one of the most storied franchises in hockey history, and came out on top.