This is the moment we’ve been building to. We’ve seen so many great teams, taking trips down memory lane with each of them to see what made them a special and unique champion. However, none of them compare to the champion we are going to look at today. 60 wins. 132 points. 33-1-6 home record. 9 Hall of Famers. Those are just a few things that this team accomplished and below we’ll look at even more. Some of the stats and facts we’ll throw out at you will have you rubbing your eyes in disbelief or questioning whether or not I made a typo. The #1 team in NHL history is without a doubt…..the 1976-1977 Montreal Canadiens.
The 1975-1976 season saw the Canadiens finally end the run of the Broad Street Bullies, sweeping them 4-0 in the Stanley Cup Finals. Heading into the 1976-1977 season, the Canadiens made very little changes, with the only significant change being the return of Rejean Houle from the WHA. Coach Scotty Bowman had his team ready to go from the very first game. In the first game of the regular season, the Canadiens routed the Penguins 10-1. Just 3 games later, the Canadiens traveled to Philadelphia for a rematch of the Stanley Cup Finals, and they thumped the Flyers 7-1. This team was just ruthless. Fast forwarding to October 30th, the Bruins managed to knock off the Canadiens in Montreal, ending the Canadiens 5-0 start at home. Little did people know, that would be the only time Montreal would lose on home ice that season. More of than later. At the end of October, the Canadiens were 9-3-1, and had started off pretty good. The Canadiens averaged 5.1 goals a game in the first month of the season and gave up just 2.2 goals a game. The scary part for the rest of the NHL?
The Canadiens kept us this pace for the entire season. The Canadiens ran through the month of November, going 10-1-2. The Canadiens then ramped up their level of play, if you can even imagine that, going 18-1-3 between November 17th and January 12th. In the worst “skid” of the season, the Canadiens dropped 2 of their next 3 games, bringing their record to 33-7-6 on January 17th. The Canadiens went 3-0-1 in their next 4 games to push their record to 37-7-7 at the All Star Break. What the Canadiens did post-All Star Break is the greatest post-All Star break run in the history of the NHL. The Canadiens went 24-1-5, earning 53 of a possible 60 points (88.3%) of the points possible. That post All Star break run included the Canadiens finishing the regular season on a 28-0-6 home unbeaten streak.
Remember that game back in October when the Bruins knocked off the Canadiens 4-3 in Montreal? Yea I wasn’t joking when I said that was the last time they were going to lose at home for the season. The Canadiens finished the regular season with a 33-1-6 home record (90% of points possible), the best home record in NHL history. Want to make that home record seem even more impressive? The Canadiens outscored their opponents 205-75 at home (5.1-1.9). Take a moment to think about that. We’ll wait. Their overall record was 60-8-12, good for an NHL-record 132 points that only 1 team has even come close to (95-96 Wings, 131 points). The Canadiens won their division by a mere 49 points, their conference by 26 points, and were 1st overall by 20 points over the hated Flyers.
Individually, the Canadiens were the most impressive team in NHL history in terms of the awards they captured. Guy Lafleur finished the regular season with 56 goals and 136 points (1st in NHL). Steve Shutt scored 60 goals to lead the NHL. The third member of “The Dynasty Line”, Jacques Lemaire, scored 34 goals and 75 points. Larry Robinson scored 85 points to lead all defensemen in scoring. Ken Dryden went 41-6-8 with a 2.14 GAA and 10 shutouts. Let’s look at the hardware this team collected. Of the 6 spots on the NHL’s 1st All Star Team, 4 were occupied by Canadiens (Ken Dryden, Larry Robinson, Guy Lafleur, Steve Shutt). The MVP and Art Ross went to Guy Lafleur. If the Rocket Richard existed, Steve Shutt would have won it. Ken Dryden and Michel Larocque shared the Vezina for giving up the fewest goals. Larry Robinson won the Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenseman. Scotty Bowman won the Jack Adams Award as the Coach of the Year. Finally, Lafleur also received the Lester B. Pearson award as the League’s Most Outstanding Player.
As a team, the Canadiens put up some mind boggling numbers. The Canadiens were 1st in goals for (4.84). The next closest team was almost a full goal behind (Flyers 4.04). The Canadiens also finished 1st in goals against (2.14). The Canadiens had 8 20 goal scorers, 14 10 goal scorers, and 10 players finish with 50 or more points. The Canadiens finished the year 2nd in PP% at 24.9% and 1st in PK% at 87.9%. Finally, the most impressive stat from the Canadiens was their Even Strength For/Against numbers. The Canadiens finished that season with the highest number ever for a Stanley Cup Champion, at 2.31. This team could do everything. Let’s look at their playoff run.Continue Reading: 1976-1977 Montreal Canadiens Playoff Run