MONTREAL - There was no sign of cake or smeared icing in the Habs' dressing room, but reaching the 75-point mark this early in the season was certainly reason to celebrate.
Thanks to their historic comeback against the Rangers on Tuesday night, the Canadiens now have 75 points in only 61 games. The last time they piled up as many points so quickly was in 1992-93, when Jacques Demers’ squad picked up their 75th and 76th point in their 59th game. What followed that spring was an epic playoff run that saw Patrick Roy lead the Canadiens to their 24th Stanley Cup.
That being said, the Canadiens remain the NHL’s ugly ducklings this season, lacking the true respect normally afforded to the league’s elite.
“Gaining respect around the league takes time,” cautioned Koivu. “It takes consistency and a whole season of success and a deep playoff run to normally make everyone take notice. We managed to do that for half a season last year and many people thought that would happen again now. But I think a lot of people out there underestimated the chemistry and determination that exists on this team.”
That increasing feeling of destiny is spreading its way through the Canadiens' dressing room.
“I think the guys are really starting to believe that this is the start of something special and that feeling is beginning to snowball,” said Christopher Higgins. “Every morning I see guys huddled around our big board with the standings on it in the dressing room. We all know exactly where we are in the standings right now and where we want to be.”
Where the Canadiens' recent surge will lead them remains to be seen, but head coach Guy Carbonneau can’t wait to find out.
“It’s tough to predict what effect a big win like that will have over the rest of the season,” said Carbonneau. “We can build off it and continue striving to improve or think we’re better than we are and take a nosedive. But the next time we fall behind, I doubt we’ll panic, knowing that we can bounce back.”