Below is an excerpt from the ESPN article/survey by Pierre LeBrun who asked readers to send in their choice for the greatest single season performance by a team.
This week, we got inspired by the red-hot San Jose Sharks and asked the ESPN.com puckheads which team they believe delivered the greatest single-season performance. Let’s take a look:
RustyShackleford15: The Montreal Canadiens’ 1976-77 season should stand as the high-water mark for all NHL teams. In an 80-game season, the Canadiens went 60-8-12 for 132 points, 20 points higher than the second-best team in the league. At home, they were an incredible 33-1-6. Also, their 387 goals scored led the league in production and their 171 goals against led for fewest goals allowed. Most importantly though, they cruised to a 12-2 record in the postseason to win the Cup. This is, in my opinion, the single most impressive (and seemingly easy) season for any NHL team ever.
My take: Hard to argue with the ’77 Habs. An absolute machine. Ken Dryden could hang on his stick for minutes at a time because he didn’t face many shots on goal. The Big Three on defense? Sick. Larry Robinson, Guy Lapointe and Serge Savard. Then you’ve got Guy Lafleur (136 points) winning the league scoring title, supported by fellow forwards like Steve Shutt, Jacques Lemaire, Bob Gainey, etc. They outscored opponents by 2.7 goals per game. You want individual trophies? The Habs took home the Vezina, Lester B. Pearson, Hart, Jack Adams, Norris and, of course, the Conn Smythe. Oh, and the Stanley Cup — a four-game sweep over the Bruins.
And the winner …The ’77 Habs. Their excellence that season has never been matched at that level from beginning to finish. And we’ll never see it again in a salary-cap world.