MONTREAL – Once the Panthers saw they would be in Montreal for the Bell Centre's first game of 2009, they would have been better off staying in sunny Florida.
Since 1989, ringing in the New Year at home is not just a good omen, but rather a great one for the Habs. Thanks to Guy Carbonneau’s crew’s wild 6-5 win over the Panthers on Sunday afternoon, the Canadiens are now 16-3-1 in the first game of a calendar year on home ice.
Only three teams have managed to beat the Canadiens in Montreal in the first game of a new year over the past 20 seasons - the Penguins in 2006, the Bruins in 2001 and the Sabres in 1996.
“Let’s face it, every game is important but winning our first game back is always a good thing,” said Patrice Brisebois, who has been a part of most of the Canadiens' New Year’s success at home over the past two decades. “We were lucky to be able to come home to the kind of atmosphere we have here and it’s impossible not to get fired up to play in front of our great fans.”
With a handful of veterans on the shelf these days, many Habs of tomorrow got the chance to enjoy the winning New Year’s tradition for themselves on Sunday.
“Patches [Max Pacioretty
], Chips [Kyle Chipchura], and Dags [Matt D’Agostini] are all looking to show that they have their place here in Montreal and again they brought us a lot of energy out there,” explained Mike Komisarek. “They’re playing without any expectations and that’s bringing us results.”
Word has it that clubs across the NHL are already lobbying not be the first team to visit the Bell Centre in January 2010.Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com