Green is good
It would seem that the luck of the Irish has graced the city of Montreal, and especially the Canadiens’ home rinks. Tonight, the Habs will hit the ice on St. Patrick’s Day for the 32nd time overall and 18th time at home.
In the 17 previous outings, playing host has been kind to the club, who has racked up an 11-5-1 record for a .676 winning percentage.
The Canadiens and New York Rangers have squared off three times among the Habs’ 31 tilts on March 17. While Montreal fell at Madison Square Garden in 1946, it took the W in the other two meetings as the home squad.
In 1955-56, Irish eyes were smiling on the boys in bleu-blanc-rouge in the form of a 7-2 triumph in the opener of a two-game set against the Rangers. Prior to the game, New York head coach Phil Watson had asked his players wear small green decorations on their jerseys not only to recognize the holiday but also hoping it would bring his troop some luck; the Rangers were winless at the Forum in 15 tries since the start of 1954.
After giving up the first two goals in the first 10 minutes, the Canadiens, led by Bernard Geoffrion, got their offense in gear. “Boom-Boom” would end the night with a pair of tallies.
On March 17, 1962, Jacques Plante earned his fourth shutout of the season with a 2-0 win over the Blueshirts at the Forum.
While the victories have been plenty, a loss in 1955 remains forever engrained in the memory of Habs fans, and likely changed the face of hockey in Montreal. The news that Maurice Richard had been suspended for the rest of the regular season and all of the playoffs immediately pushed the Canadiens-Red Wings matchup to the backburner. A riot broke out at the Forum, with NHL President Colin Campbell, who had handed down Richard’s suspension, in attendance. The Habs forfeited the game but emerged victorious on a whole other level.
It remains to be seen if the leprechauns have made their way into the Bell Centre and will allow the Canadiens to find the pot of gold once again.
Heather Engel is a writer for canadiens.com
The Richard Riot