clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Top 50 Montreal Canadiens Statistical Goaltending performances 10-1

via <a href=""></a>


Mention 1972 and Ken Dryden and it is unlikely that his sophomore campaign with the Canadiens will come up, although he was edged out by Tony Esposito in the NHL goaltender efficiency ranking for a solid 2nd, 1972 is all about the Summit Series. Dryden never really played well against the Russians (something he feared because of their passing game), and outside of winning Game 8, his biggest contribution is his personal account of the series for SI in 1973. His frank assessment's, his wavering confidence and his ability to fight self doubt to emerge victorious bring great insight into him and the classic series.


What would Dryden have been worth in a 1970s keeper league fantasy pool?

Seven seasons, five 1st place finishes, a 2nd place finish and he bottomed out at 4th? It is so dominant that a Gretzky like - rule would not have been out of the question. Even though his career impact is somewhat minimized because of the Canadiens dynasty, his career numbers are mindblowing.


Roy continued his dominance in 1990 with the aid of Pat Burns stifling defensive system. Roy and Allaire continued to redefine the position as Roy's SV% began to reach stratospheric levels.

Roy lead the league in wins, GAA , SV% and was the number one rated goaltender during the season. His success lead to his second straight Vezina trophy.

Roy continued his strong play in a first round defeat of the Sabres, but could not defeat the Bruins as he surrendered 13 goals in 5 games and succumbed to his nemesis Cam Neely for the second time in 3 years. Between 1988 and 1996, the only team to defeat Patrick Roy outside of the Stanley Cup Final was the Bruins.


Dryden's final season saw him once again lead the league in goaltending efficiency and lead the Canadiens to another Stanley Cup - his 6th in only 8 seasons. But his final season was a struggle, a fact he alluded to in "The Game". The struggle to get up for every game, the commitment to excellence and the ability to hold off the hungrier teams as they took aim at the Champions on a nightly basis. The Canadiens failed to finish first overall and their performance had dropped from their peak level of 1977. Their 17 losses almost matched their loss total from the previous 2 seasons (18).

They struggled to hold off the Bruins in their classic 7 game semi-final and Dryden was slated for the bench in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals until fate intervened with a slap shot to Bunny Larocque's face. The Canadiens faithful booed Dryden's announcement as the starting goaltender in Game 2 at the Forum. Over his Canadiens career he won 6 Stanley Cups and was 201 games above .500 and yet he was booed.

Carey Price, don't feel so bad, apparentlty idiocy is hereditary.


I had always assumed that I just latched onto whatever Canadiens goaltender was in net as a kid. Looking back, the 1980 season provided Denis Herron's 25-3-3 record, and in 1981, Richard Sevigny posted 20-4-3 numbers. In 1982 and 1983 combined, Wamsley was 50-19-12. Finally, when the Canadiens system did not produce a great goaltender, Steve Penney shows up out of the wilderness and leads the Canadiens to within two games of the Stanley Cup Finals.

I was latching on to these goaltenders because they looked like stars to a kid's eyes. The reality of the situation is that ALL of them were system goaltenders. The way their careers played out proves just this.

I am constantly under fire at fantasysensehockey for suggesting that goaltenders like Tim Thomas, Nik Backstrom, Chris Osgood etc are a product of their system. History is littered with Roman Turek's, Roman Cechmanek's, Byron Dafoe's and Rick Wamsley's. Individuals who spend 80% of their careers treading water until placed in an insulated system.

The logic that Tim Thomas all of a sudden became elite at the age of 34 is absurd. If history has taught us anything, it is that it repeats itself. He is not an MVP like some would suggest, he is about a valid Vezina winner as Bob Froese would have been in 1986 when he posted one of the greatest statistical seasons in NHL history.

Wamsley comes in at number 6, but the trap is responsible, and the 1976-1992 trap dominates the top 10 of this list. Hey, Jersey, we want out system back!


Another Vezina, another Stanley Cup and 700 more opportunites for Denis Brodeur to capture the pose.


The 1981 season for the Canadiens was a horror show in goal. The season started with Herron and Larocque as a tandem. Larocque won 11 straight and took the starting job. He injured his hand and with Herron struggling they were both benched for Nova Scotia call ups Richard Sevigny and Rick Wamsley. Wamsley got off to a strong start and then took a puck in the throat and Larocque was back in the picture. When Larocque struggled, he was replaced by Herron, who had been benched for over 6 weeks. Larocque demanded a trade, and he was promptly shipped to the Leafs.

Thanks to Sevigny's efforts, Larocque and Herron's names are etched on the Vezina trophy. Having two goalies with a combined record of 22-18-9 with a 3.30 GAA average as award winners was ridiculous,  and it is likely because of this that the NHL decided to change the criteria for the winner of the Vezina.

Although Sevigny was a statistically deserving recipient, he had a hand in assuring that he never had his name on it again.


After consecutive playoff failures in which the Canadiens could not contain their opposition, Scotty Bowman spent the off-season convincing the Canadiens that they could not win without renewed emphasis on defense. Where 1974's failures could have been written off due to the absence of Dryden, it has to be considered that the Canadiens offense were outplayed by the "French Connection" line. By 1975, it was time for a change in philosophy.

The renewed commitment to defense resulted in cutting 51 goals off their 1975 totals and lead Dryden to 4 of the top 7 statistical seasons in post expansion history. The Canadiens lead by the Big 3 and defensive forwards Bob Gainey, Doug Jarvis and Doug Risebrough won 4 consecutive Stanley Cups. Over those 4 seasons the Canadiens lost only 51 of 368 games and lead the league in defense every year. Larocque put up great numbers (think Chris Osgood), but placing Dryden in that situation produced Hall of Fame numbers.


The 1989 season finally saw the maturation of Roy as a goaltender. Although he had put up great statistical seasons after his rookie year, it was the 1989 campaign which saw the light finally turn on. Previously Roy struggled to outperform Brian Hayward and had benefitted from the shelter of a league leading defense, but the hiring of Pat Burns combined with the tireless work of ally Francois Allaire resulted in his goaltending epiphany. Roy lost only 5 of 48 starts and was undefeated at home during the regular season.

Roy could not sustain his home success into the playoffs, as he lost 4 of his last 6 home starts and the Habs fell in 6 games to the Flames in the Stanley Cup Final. Combining Pat Burns defensive system with the young superstar was like a goalie on steroids, as Roy won 3 of the next 4 Vezina trophies and began his ascent to NHL legend status.


It is no surprise that the number one statistical season in Canadiens history coincides with the record setting 60-8-12 season of 1977. If Larocque had played 30 plus games there is a good possibility they would have finished 1-2 on this list. The pose was on display nightly as Dryden was rarely tested all season. The record setting squad did not lose back to back all season. The only time Dryden was tested was during the Stanley Cup semi-finals. During a 4 game sweep of the Blues and the first two games against the Islanders, Dryden allowed 7 goals in 6 games, but the Isles managed to beat him 9 times over two games to force a 6th game. It was the only games Dryden would lose in the playoffs as the Habs won 5 straight for their second consecutive championship, defeating the Bruins 4-0 in the Finals.

Dryden's 1977 season is one of the greatest statistical seasons ever produced by a goaltender.