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Carpe Diem


MONTREAL | February 25th, 2009
Carpe Diem
There are certain days that, year after year, just seem to be luckier than others.  In Montreal, chances are good that the Canadiens have February 26 circled on their calendars.

As teams from both conferences are scratching and clawing for playoff positions, it’s a good bet there are 29 teams breathing a collective sigh of relief that the Habs don’t have an opponent lined up for the third-last day of this month.

Like finding a four-leaf clover while holding a horseshoe and stroking a rabbit’s foot, playing on February 26 has been a near-guaranteed victory for the Canadiens since the club joined the NHL in 1917.  In fact, in 35 outings on the 57th day of the year, the Canadiens own a stellar 28-5-2 record.  Their lifetime 0.835 points percentage on the 26th makes the date more successful than any other day in which the team has played more than 10 games.  

The lucky streak got rolling in 1921 when the Canadiens faced the Hamilton Tigers at the Mont Royal arena.  Under the watchful eye of one of the first superstars of American film, Ruth Roland, Newsy Lalonde and Cully Wilson each netted hat tricks to help the home team post a 13-6 win over their rivals from Ontario.  Adding a cherry on top, Lalonde also notched the winner for a fifth straight game, earning an NHL record that still stands today.  

By all accounts, the Canadiens seem immune to the Winter Blues on this particular date, posting a 50-year undefeated streak on February 26.  Between 1944 and 1994, Montreal was in action on 23 occasions, adding just two ties to their 21-win collection.

Following in the footsteps of Lalonde and Wilson, Claude Larose (1974), Mark Napier (1981) and Gilbert Dionne (1991) also added their names to the list of Canadiens players who seized the day by notching hat tricks during tilts on February 26.

Far from one-hit wonders, though, the Canadiens haven’t exactly struggled on every other day of the year. Teams looking to choose a more fruitful day to face off against the bleu-blanc-rouge may have their work cut out for them, given that of the 208 days the Habs have seen action in the regular season, the team owns an above .500 record in 177 outings.  At least there are 31 days left to choose from…