MONTREAL – Ah, December! As children everywhere await the 25th with anxious anticipation, members of the media are counting the days until the 23rd.
The Canadiens’ letters to Santa have been answered as jolly old St. Nick plans to reward the team with a holiday on December 23 – a date that typically hasn’t been kind to the Habs.
With just one win in 19 outings on Christmas Eve-eve since 1980-81, the Canadiens have definitely seen better days. The team’s all-time record on December 23 is only slightly better, having gone 15-16-10 on the date since the franchise was founded in 1909.
More importantly, the month of December marks the anniversary of the franchise, which is set to blow out 99 candles on Thursday. When the Canadiens face off against the Rangers on the 4th, it will mark the 37th time in history that the team will be in action on the night of the club’s birthday. The Habs are looking to celebrate the milestone in style, attempting to improve its current 13-18-5 lifetime record on that date.
One year older and wiser, the team’s performance throughout its birth month has been impressive, having gone 511-354-171-76 during December in past years. Since joining the NHL in 1917-18, the Canadiens have also enjoyed four Decembers without suffering a single loss. The most fruitful December in franchise history came in 1978 when the team won 11 games and tied three others, as Scotty Bowman’s Habs outscored its opponents 62 to 26 over the course of the month. Montreal has only been held winless in the month of December on one occasion, after dropping seven games and tying three in 1935-36.
So what’s in store for the Canadiens in December 2008? It may be a long month ahead, but tonight’s match up against the Thrashers will provide at least part of the answer.