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The season that was

Wednesday, 26.05.2010 / 5:00 PM / News
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The season that was
Hi, I’m Scott/Mike/Brian/Travis/Paul/Hal/Jaro…: One might have thought that an offseason full of personnel changes inside the Canadiens’ dressing room would be enough, but since training camp, the Habs brass kept equipment manager Pierre Gervais busier than ever throughout the year. Thanks to the injury bug that plagued the Canadiens all season long, in total, 39 different players suited up for the team in 2009-10, including a team-record 19 who took their first strides with the club this year.  
Welcome to Montreal
Behind the scenes with Hal Gill

Dropping like flies: The team’s equipment managers weren’t the only ones on the Habs’ staff working overtime this season. After Andrei Markov went down with a severed tendon in the first game of the season, the parade to the Canadiens’ clinic grew from there. With injuries running rampant through the Habs’ dressing room, nine players were shelved for 10 or more games, led by Markov’s 37-game rehab stint. In all, the team suffered through a staggering 261 man games lost to injury in 2009-10.

100 candles: On December 4, 2009, the Canadiens became the first professional hockey team to celebrate 100 years of existence.  In addition to ringing in the first century of Habs hockey with a full-equipment pre-game skate by the likes of Patrick Roy, Ken Dryden, Guy Lafleur and other Canadiens legends, Elmer Lach and Emile Bouchard saw their jerseys take their rightful place in the Bell Centre rafters while almost 100 former players and coaches lined up at center ice for a commemorative family photo. And that was just the warm-up. In the unforgettable Centennial Game itself, Michael Cammalleri spurred the birthday boys to victory, notching a hat trick in a 5-1 win over the arch-rival Boston Bruins. 
The team photo
The legends' warm-up
Lach and Bouchard jersey retirement

Back on top: After slipping from No.1 in 2007-08 to 13th in the league a year later, the Canadiens’ power play finally got its groove back this season. Thanks to a 21.8% efficiency overall and an NHL-best 28.3% on the road, the Habs were second only to the Washington Capitals with the man advantage in 2009-10. The holiday season was particularly generous to the Canadiens’ PP, as Andrei Markov returned from injured and helped spark a 38.3% efficiency through the month of December.

Four-for-five: It took 183 of the 184 days on the regular season schedule, but by picking up a point against the Leafs in the last game of the year, the Canadiens clinched a berth in the playoffs for the fourth time in five years since the NHL returned from the lockout in 2005-06. Only three teams managed to lock up a spot in the postseason more often than the Habs since then, with the Red Wings, Sharks and Devils all qualifying for the dance for five straight seasons.  

Cinderella has a ball.
The Capitals and Penguins are likely still wondering what hit them. This spring, the eighth-seeded Habs became the first No. 8 to ever make it to the Eastern Conference Finals, winning both Rounds 1 and 2 in dramatic do-or-die Game 7s. After falling behind 3-1 in the opening series against the Caps, the Canadiens managed to rally back from near-death for the second time in team history. One round later, in the Conference semifinals, the Habs once again came from behind, erasing a 3-2 series deficit to oust the defending Stanley Cup champs in Pittsburgh. With two big upsets in their back pockets, Montreal made their way back to the Conference Finals for the first time in 17 years.
History will be made: Michael Cammalleri
History will be made: Jaroslav Halak

Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com

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