Murray Wilson doesn’t talk much about having played on the team with the best NHL season ever. He says, “People always ask ‘Did you win a Championship?’ or ‘Do you have any rings?’, not caring very much about how we did during the regular season. It was just a way to get to our goal.”
Wilson and the 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens team had an incredible season, with a record-breaking 132 points, and they even went on to win the Stanley Cup. The ’95-’96 Detroit Red Wings, and 2018-’19 Tampa Bay Lightning teams also achieved record numbers of wins at 62 each, but sadly they did not make it in their playoffs.
The Boston Bruins are doing really well this season, and many players from teams like the Montreal Canadiens, Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning know how it feels to be so successful all year long. They also know that there is still a lot of important stuff to learn for the upcoming playoffs.
Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman has a lot of experience in NHL, including in Montreal and Detroit. He said that it can be worrying when your team is having an amazing season, which isn’t ideal because no one likes facing any problems or difficulties. But sometimes adversity can help make your team stronger and pay more attention to what you are doing.
Maybe a few bad losses in January or their tough streak of three losses in four games in March will show the Bruins how strong they are. According to Bowman, this team has more depth than he’s seen in awhile. It could be during the playoffs that they truly understand how powerful they can be.
Back in Montreal 46 years ago, their team mostly won with only one loss at home and 8s losses overall during an 80-game season. They also tied 12 times in a row without overtime. But three of those losses were against their arch rival Boston, causing coach Bowman to motivate his players when they met again for the final.
Wilson remembered when Bowman said Boston’s players were as good or even better than Montreal’s Guy Lafleur, Jacques Lemaire and Steve Shutt. Wilson thought that the Canadiens getting challenged started a chain reaction where everybody else followed too. The end result of this was the Canadiens winning the Cup in a 4-game sweep. 19 years later, the Red Wings put up a roadblock they didn’t mean to and got a completely different result.
Bowman can still remember to this day when the Detroit Redwings won big against Montreal Canadiens 11-1. Their coach Mario Tremblay made a mistake by leaving Patrick Roy in for such a long time as he let nine goals score on him. This angered Patrick so much that he asked for a trade away from Montreal and was sent off to the Colorado Avalanche – which happened to be Detroit’s biggest rival in the West division.
Bowman said it felt like they had sailed along with their win, but yet it may have destroyed them in some way. He recalled: “We won the game, but we probably killed ourselves”.
The Red Wings already changed how they played after losing to New Jersey in 1995 and tried to play better defense. But, they ran into a goalie who was performing really well at the wrong time – he beat them in the Western Conference final and helped his team Colorado win their very first championship.
Scott Bowman, a hockey coach who won the Stanley Cup nine times, said he was very disappointed when their team lost even after they won 62 games. Fortunately, better luck came afterwards; The following two seasons Detroit hockey team managed to win the Stanley Cup and beat Roy in 1997. They also swept all the games of the finals.
The Lightning had a great season where they won lots of games, very easily. They scored almost 4 goals per game and only ever lost two games in a row at most.
“We did a really good job in this season, winning lots of games. We always scored more points than other teams, and our powerplay was incredible! Plus, we had some comeback wins too. However, when it comes to the playoffs, it isn’t just about scoring goals.”
Tampa Bay started off well in the first game against Columbus by scoring the first three goals. Unfortunately, things changed quickly and soon enough, Tampa Bay was being swept out of the first round series. The coach didn’t get fired, but something had to change for the team to improve.
Cooper said that the team used to try to win by scoring a lot of goals, but then they realized it worked better for them if they just focused on not giving up any goals. They stopped trying to be amazing, and instead tried to win even if it was just 1-0 or 2-1.
After learning how to do that, they became champions in two consecutive years (2020 and 2021) – both times with a shutout (no goals scored against them). Last year (2021), the Lightning went all the way back to the final again!
Ondrej Palat, who’s been a part of Tampa Bay Lightning for a long time said that they wouldn’t have won the Stanley Cup twice if they hadn’t learned some hard lessons in 2018-19. He believes it was needed to help them get to where they are now.
The Bruins need to win the Championship soon because their star players Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci are already 37 years old and goalie Linus Ullmark had a great season. Everyone on the team is trying to go for the victory especially since it has been 10 years since they won last. It’s like how during the late 70s, getting first place was all that mattered for the Canadiens.
Wilson said it in a simpler way. Unless we won the Cup and had good seasons like that, we wouldn’t have stayed in Montreal over the summer.