The 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens: The Greatest NHL Team in History
In 1976-77, the Montreal Canadiens made NHL history. Many team records that were set that year still stand today. Team records that still stand include most points (132), most wins (60), most goals for (387) and fewest losses (8). The record for fewest losses still stands today as an NHL record and must be considered unbreakable with the addition of overtime and shootouts which have eliminated ties.
The team won 60 games that season and that stood as an NHL record until Detroit eclipsed it in 1995-96 with 62 wins. However, what Detroit couldn’t do that season was top Montreal’s league record of 132 point. They could only muster 131, even with an additional 2 games.
Amazingly, nine players off the 1976-77 team have since been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Yvan Cournoyer, Ken Dryden, Bob Gainey, Guy Lafleur, Guy Lapointe, Jacques Lemaire, Larry Robinson, Serge Savard and Steve Shutt are all honoured in the hall.
So, the question is, who were the giant killers in 1976-77? What teams were able to knock off the almighty Montreal Canadiens during regular season play? Only five teams were able to accomplish this feat. No teams from their own division, the Norris, were able to knock them off. Two teams accounted for five of the eight defeats. Six of the eight defeats came at the hands of teams from the Adams Division. Two teams had a below .500 record.
The Canadiens lost to the Boston Bruins 3 times, the Buffalo Sabres twice and once each to the New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs and St. Louis Blues. Only one of these losses occurred at the Montreal Forum, a 4-3 loss to the Bruins on October 30. After getting ‘blown out’ twice within one week, 7-2 to the Blues and 7-3 to the Bruins, the team only lost one more game before the end of the season. It should also be noted that 3 of the 8 losses occurred in the first month of the season.
This is the complete list of losses during the 1976-77 season:
October 10. Buffalo 3, Montreal 1 at Buffalo.
October 17. Boston 5, Montreal 3 at Boston.
October 30. Boston 4, Montreal 3 at Montreal.
November 17. Toronto 1, Montreal 0 at Toronto.
December 12. New York Rangers 5, Montreal 2 at New York.
January 12. St. Louis 7, Montreal 2 at St. Louis.
January 17. Boston 7, Montreal 3 at Boston.
March 6. Buffalo 4, Montreal 1 at Buffalo.