May 23, 2008

1986: The Year Of Surprises

The year is 1986. The Montreal Canadiens capture a surprise Stanley Cup, thanks to a rookie goalie and the Calgary Flames.

Rookie goalie Patrick Roy was the single biggest reason the Habs won the Cup. He was an obvious choice as Conn Smythe Trophy winner, with his impressive 1.92 GAA and .923 save percentage. The Habs also got some timely scoring from another rookie, Claude Lemieux, and from Mats Naslund, the first European to ever play for Montreal.

The Habs road to the Cup was smoothed over pretty nicely along the way. Mighty Philadelphia spent much of the season reeling after the November death of reigning Vezina trophy winning goalie Pelle Lindbergh. Montreal dusted off New York Rangers, Boston and Hartford en route to the finals. Hartford conveniently eliminated Montreal's hated rival, the Quebec Nordiques, in round one.

Once in the Stanley Cup finals, the Habs did not have to face the mighty Edmonton Oilers and superstar Wayne Gretzky. Unthinkably, the Albertan rival Calgary Flames knocked off the Oilers in a memorable 7 game series. Of course, that series and the 1986 playoffs will always be remembered for Steve Smith's own goal.

1 comment:

matthew said...

I watched Smith's own goal live, as a Flames fan. I went running to the kitchen, screaming to my dad that we scored. His eyes lit up magically, slightly unable to believe that we would ever get by the Oilers, and asked me who scored it. "Steve Smith", I cried. He looked troubled and annoyed that I had mixed it up as he came to look, torn between elation and disappointment. When he saw the replay though, he was bummed. I was ecstatic. The Oilers were so good you cheered for them as they beat your team; to win was magnificent. Best website ever.