This Week in Canadiens History: April 4th – April 11th

MONTREAL, QC - 1971: Jean Beliveau #4 Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Melchior DiGiacomo/Getty Images)
MONTREAL, QC - 1971: Jean Beliveau #4 Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Melchior DiGiacomo/Getty Images) /
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On this week in Canadiens history: Comebacks, coaches, the wildest final day of the season, and the longest Finals game at the time!

April 4th

Farewell Jean Beliveau

On this day, the year of our Lord 1971, Jean Beliveau played his final regular season game in a contest against the Boston Bruins.

It was a monumental game for the Bruins, as Phil Esposito set NHL records for goals and hattricks in a season, with 7 and 76 respectively. Bobby Orr also set records with his 102nd assist, an NHL record, and 36th goal and 139th point, most for a defenseman in a season, which still stands.

Jean Beliveau would finish on top, with a fantastic playoff that season, with 6 goals and 16 points, and winning his record 10th Stanley Cup as a player.

A Pair Of Debuts

In 1944, Maurice ‘The Rocket’ Richard made his Stanley Cup Final debut, and recorded an assist in a 5-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. Richard would dominate the series, scoring 5 goals and 7 points in just 4 games, and winning his first Stanley Cup.

Jacques Plante made his playoff debut exactly 9 years later. This debut was a nit more impressive as Plante shutout the Blackhawks 3-0. He was the fourth goalie to record a shutout as a rookie in their first playoff game.

A Record Streak is Broken

The Blackhawks would get their revenge on the Canadiens on April 4th, 1961, as a 3-0 win knocked the Montreal Canadiens out of the playoffs in Game 6 of the Semifinals. Chicago would go on to win the Stanley Cup that year.

The loss broke the Montreal Canadiens’ streak of Stanley Cup wins at 5, but also meant that the 1961 Stanley Cup Final was the first Final to not feature the Montreal Canadiens since 1950, an incredible 10 year run.

Half As Long, Twice as Bright

April 4th, 1979, Ken Dryden played his final regular season game in a win against the Detroit Red Wings. Dryden was the first goalie to win 30 games in each of his first 7 seasons.

That year, Dryden and the Canadiens won the Stanley Cup for the 4th straight year, and like Jean Beliveau, in the offseason, Dryden retired on top.

The Anti-Ron Hainsey

Astute readers will remember Ron Hainsey from last week as his birthday was March 24th. The short-time Canadien is in the record books for playing the most career games before reaching the playoffs.

Well, Larry Robinson may as well be the anti-Hainsey. On April 4th, 1990, as a member of the Kings, Larry Robinson played in his 18th straight playoff series, 17 of which were for the Canadiens.

18 straight postseasons was a record, but Robinson would reach the postseason in each of his 20 seasons in the NHL. The only player to match that feat was Nicklas Lidstrom.