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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April 5th

Pure Pandemonium

On this day, the year of our Lord 1970, the Montreal Canadiens played the Chicago Blackhawks and the New York Rangers played the Detroit Red Wings in the last games of their respective seasons.

Buckle in, because this is a wild ride.

Let’s start with the earlier game: New York vs Detroit. New York entered the day 2 points behind the Canadiens for the last playoff spot. And the odds were against them.

For the Rangers to enter the playoffs, they would have to beat the Red Wings, and hope the Canadiens lose to the Blackhawks. Not only that, but since the tie breaker was goals for, the Rangers needed to score 5 more goals than Montreal did.

So what did New York do? They hung 9 on Detroit. They even pulled the goalie in the third up 7 to try to score more goals. Unfortunately, it only resulted in Detroit empty netters, resulting in a 9-5 Rangers win.

So the Montreal Canadiens just had to win, tie or score 5 goals to make it in the playoffs, but were in tough against the league leading Blackhawks.

And it didn’t go the Canadiens’ way, as halfway through the third the Habs were down 5-2. With just under 10 minutes to play, the Canadiens pull the goalie and throw caution to the wind. It didn’t matter how many goals Chicago scored, just as long as Montreal scored 5.

Well, there was a 5 on the scoresheet. Only, it was 5 empty net goals as the Chicago Blackhawks won 10-2.

2 games. 26 goals. 8 empty netters. The New York Rangers made the playoffs, and the Montreal Canadiens did not.

With the Toronto Maple Leafs languishing in the league’s basement (typical), it was the first year that the NHL playoffs did not have a Canadian team participating. The next time that happened was in 2016.

That is thanks in part to the Montreal Canadiens’ impressive streak of playoff appearances. Between 1948 and 1996 the Canadiens missed the playoffs once: 1970.

Happy Birthday John Hanna

Defenceman John Hanna was born on April 5th, 1935 in Sydney, Nova Scotia. Hanna played 198 NHL games, mostly with the Rangers, but spent a year in Montreal.

Hanna is known to be the first player of Lebanese descent to play in the NHL.