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season card
GP Games played - Number of games the team has played
W Wins - Games the team has won, either in regulation or in overtime
L Losses - Games the team has lost in regulation
T Ties - Games that have ended in a tie
PTS Points - Team points, calculated from W, L, T, OTL and SOL; used to determine standings
GF Goals for - Number of goals the team has scored
GA Goals against - Number of goals scored against the team
Buffalo Sabres 82 40 30 12 92 237 208
Pittsburgh Penguins 82 38 36 8 84 285 280
Ottawa Senators 82 31 36 15 77 249 276
Montreal Canadiens 82 31 36 15 77 249 276
Hartford Whalers 82 32 39 11 75 226 256
Boston Bruins 82 26 47 9 61 234 300
Season's leaders see the complete stats
GP Games played - Number of games the player has set foot on the ice
G Goals - Number of goals the player has scored
A Assists - Number of goals the player has assisted in
PTS Points - Scoring points, calculated as the sum of G and A
25 Vincent Damphousse 82 27 54 81
8 Mark Recchi 82 34 46 80
49 Brian Savage 81 23 37 60
11 Saku Koivu 50 17 39 56
26 Martin Rucinsky 70 28 27 55
GP Games played - Number of games the player has set foot on the ice
RECORD Record - Goalie record (W-L-T)
SO Shutouts - Number of games where the goaltender has not allowed a goal
GAA Goals against average - Mean goals-per-game scored on the goaltender
41 Jocelyn Thibault 61 22-24-11 1 2.90
Season results


Before training camp even gets underway, the team reacquires Stephane Richer, traded away five years earlier, and sends Lyle Odelein to New Jersey.

Meanwhile, the revolving door for the team’s captains sends yet another leader packing. Pierre Turgeon is traded along with Rory Fitzpatrick and Craig Conroy to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for Murray Baron and Shayne Corson, who returns for his second stint with the team.

The Canadiens struggle through the first half of the season. At the holiday break, the Habs are 11th overall in the Eastern Conference.

One of the highlights of the season is the standout play of Saku Koivu. In his second year in Montreal, the Finnish center leads the league in scoring at the beginning of December with 38 points. Unfortunately, he suffers a knee injury on December 7 in a game against the Chicago Blackhawks and misses the next 22 games.

The word “injury” figures prominently in any account of the team’s season as Montreal suffers a league-high 295 man-games lost.

While things don’t get any better for the Habs in January and February, with the team playing at well under .500, Canadiens fans can take some pride in watching the All-Star Game in San Jose. Mark Recchi, the team’s sole representative, scores a hat trick and becomes the fourth Montreal player to win the showcase game’s MVP award after Jean Béliveau, Henri Richard and Frank Mahovlich.

The Canadiens’ season doesn’t get much better after the break, though the team manages to cling to eighth place in the Eastern Conference. With 11 points in their last 20 games of the regular season, the Habs squeak into the playoffs.


The Habs face the powerful New Jersey Devils in the first round of the playoffs. The Devils take a quick 3-0 series lead behind the remarkable play of goalie Martin Brodeur. The Canadiens stave off elimination at home by winning the fourth game, 4-3, thanks to a standout performance by up-and-coming Jose Theodore who makes his playoff debut in Game 4 as Patrice Brisebois scores the winning goal in triple overtime, marking the Canadiens’ longest overtime game since 1961.

Montreal’s season comes to an end two days later on the road following a 4-0 loss.

Four days after the team’s elimination, coach Mario Tremblay announces his resignation.

The playoffs roadmap
Conference quarter-finals - New Jersey Devils
Date AWAY   HOME  
April 17th, 1997 MTL 2 NJ 5  
April 19th, 1997 MTL 1 NJ 4  
April 22nd, 1997 NJ 6 MTL 4  
April 24th, 1997 NJ 3 MTL 4  
April 26th, 1997 MTL 0 NJ 4  
New Jersey won best-of-seven series 4-1