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Sunday February 7, 2010 9:20 pm

Canadiens history of poor centennial celebrations




Posted by Adrien Griffin Categories: Championship, Editorial, NHL,

Frank MahovolichWith all of the centennial celebrations in the Montreal Canadiens camp over the past year, it seems appropriate to look back into their lengthy history. During another centennial in 1967 – Canada’s centennial – the Canadiens were battling the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Stanley Cup finals in an attempt to win their third straight championship. It would be the last Finals before the expansion and the last time two Canadian teams would face each other until 1986, when the Habs beat the Calgary Flames.

The Habs started rookie goalie Rogatien Vachon in Game One and slaughtered the Leafs 6-2. Game Two was a 3-0 shutout, but this time on behalf of the Leafs’ Johnny Bower, who suffered a swollen nose at the hands of John Ferguson. Game Three moved to Maple Leaf Gardens, where Bower ignored his injury in stopping 60 shots in 3-2 overtime victory, but the Canadiens stormed back for another 6-2 win in Game Four. The series was tied at two and shaping up to be a real classic.

All of a sudden, things collapsed for Montreal. Terry Sawchuk, who recorded his 100th career shutout earlier in the season, replaced Bower in net and put up back-to-back one-goal performances, winning Game Five 4-1 and Game Six 3-1 in Toronto. The Leafs had successfully thwarted the Canadiens plans to raise the Cup in Montreal on the 100-year anniversary of Canada and the Leafs, whose average team age was over 30, became the oldest team in history to win the Stanley Cup.

The Habs won the coveted trophy in ’65, ’66, ’68 and ’69. If they could have snuck away with the Cup in ’67, and all else stayed the same, they would have been five-time champions, a mark only seen once in history, when they themselves did it from 1956-’60. Prior to the two that the Canadiens were defending, the Leafs strung three straight Cups of their own together. Their victory in 1967 is the last one they have. The Canadiens have won 10 times since.

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