Wednesday, May 10, 2017

SANDERSON TO ORR


On May 10, 1970, at 5:10pm, one of the most dramatic goals in hockey history was scored at the old Boston Garden. The occasion was game four of the 1970 Stanley Cup final between the hometown Bruins and the St. Louis Blues. Boston was well in control of the final as they won the first three contests.

In game four, the two clubs ended regulation tied at three goals apiece. The Bruins pulled even with the Blues when Johnny Bucyk potted the equalizer late in the third period. As is usually the case in overtime, one player takes his place under the spotlight and becomes the hero. Forty-seven years ago this afternoon, the knight in shining armour for the Bruins faithful was Bobby Orr.

"Swooping in front of the Blues' net, Bobby Orr took a swipe past old Glenn Hall in a move so rapid that there was a slight delay in the roar from the stands until a few moments after the red light flashed," noted Boston Globe writer Tom Fitzgerald.



In his story, Fitzgerald quoted Orr's teammate, Derek Sanderson, who set-up the goal. "That Bobby is the only guy who could do something like that. He blocked the puck away from the guy (Larry Keenan) over by the boards, then got it into me in the right corner. I waited just a little until Bobby busted for that net and put it into him."


Orr's Cup-winning tally, scored forty-seconds into overtime, topped off a banner season for the native of Parry Sound, Ontario. In addition to the Cup, Orr took home the Hart Trophy (MVP), Art Ross Trophy (top scorer), Norris Trophy (top defenceman) and the Conn Smythe Trophy (playoff MVP).


Friday, May 5, 2017

A PERFECT FIT


On Saturday, April 29th, former Leaf, Tod Sloan, received his alumni jacket in recognition of the Toronto Maple Leafs 100th anniversary. The event was held at the Legion Hall in Sutton, Ontario.



The presentation was made by fellow Leaf, Ron Hurst (L) and former NHL defenceman, Ivan Irwin, who played with the Canadiens and Rangers.

Tod Sloan scored his biggest NHL goal in game five of the 1951 Stanley Cup Final. The Montreal Canadiens held a one goal advantage over Toronto late in the period three. With seconds remaining in regulation, Sloan tied the contest at the 19:28 mark of the third period.

A story in The Globe and Mail provided readers with this description of Sloan's equalizer. Max Bentley "worked his way goal ward firing through a maze of players. The puck bounced out, Smith (Sid) smacked at it and it hit the goalpost, the disc landing at Sloan's feet. Tod did the rest."

It "took the heart out of the Habs, cost them a victory they had locked up. It was like having a man steal home on you in the ninth to tie the score," noted another newspaper article.

Sloan's crucial tally sent the game into overtime. What came next is one of the most important moments in Toronto Maple Leafs history. In the extra-time, Bill Barilko scored the Cup-winning goal and by summers end, lost his life in a plane crash.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

THE LAST CUP


Exactly 50 years-ago this evening on May 2, 1967, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens faced-off in game six of the Stanley Cup Final. The game was played at Maple Leafs Gardens. The Cup was on the line as the Leafs held a 3 to 2 games advantage over the Habs.

Going into the third period, Toronto was able to keep their opponent off the scoreboard and had a two goal lead. Ron Ellis and Jimmy Pappin found the back of the net for the home team. But at the 5:28 mark of the final frame, former Leaf, Dick Duff, brought the Canadiens to within one goal.



Toronto Daily Star hockey writer, Red Burnett, in his report the next day, brilliantly described the action after Duff's goal.

"From then until George Armstrong pounded a long shot into the Canadiens net with 47 seconds left, it was a tense, gripping duel between a desperate offence and a stubborn, clever defence.

"Coach Toe Blake lifted Worsley at 19:05 for an extra attacker after the Leafs were called for icing.

"Allan Stanley beat Beliveau to the faceoff and cleared him out of the way with his body to allow Kelly to relay the puck to Bob Pulford, who fed Army in the clear."

Saturday, April 29, 2017

GAME THREE 1967 STANLEY CUP FINAL


As the countdown begins to the 50th anniversary of the Toronto Maple Leafs last Stanley Cup championship on May 2, 1967, here is a look back to game three of the Cup Final. The contest was played on April 25, 1967, at Maple Leaf Gardens. It was the only contest in the Final where overtime was required. Going into game three, the Leafs and Montreal Canadiens split the first two games with Montreal gaining first blood in a lopsided 6-2 victory. The Leafs bounced back two nights later with a 3-0 shutout.

This set the scene for game three and the opportunity for one club to take the series lead. After twenty-minutes of action the score was knotted at a goal-apiece. Jean Beliveau opened the scoring on a power play and the Leafs responded with a power play goal of their own before the first period came to a close. The goal scorer for Toronto was Pete Stemkowski.

In the middle frame, Toronto and Montreal once again exchanged goals. Jim Pappin gave the Buds a 2-1 lead at 10:34 with Tim Horton and Bob Pulford earning assists. Late in the period, Montreal enforcer, John Ferguson, pulled the Habs even with his first tally in the Final. His equalizer came at the 19:10 mark.

The final period of regulation didn't produce any scoring and a lone penalty was called on John Ferguson for hooking. In the first period of overtime, Johnny Bower and Rogatien Vachon made certain that a second sudden death overtime period was going to take place. The best scoring chance came when Montreal's Gilles Tremblay hit the goal-post.

At the 8:26 mark of the second overtime session, Maple Leafs winger, Bob Pulford, brought the fans at the Gardens out of their seats. Lou Cauz, Leaf beat writer for The Globe and Mail, wrote: "Pulford said he had been behind the net and had cut out in front and across to the left side." Then, Pulford described what happened next. "Just as I turned around the puck came over and all I had to do was steer it in."



After coming off the ice, Pulford watched a Hockey Night in Canada replay of his game-winning goal. "As he stood and watched the rerun he could see Stemkowski pass the puck to Jim Pappin, who fired a shot towards the goal," noted Cauz. "The puck never reached the 21-year old goalie, Rogatien Vachon, as Pulford steered it into the open side."

"That's probably the most thrilling goal I've ever scored," stated Pulford. "It's the first overtime one I've ever had."


Thursday, April 27, 2017

HEART & SOUL


On Saturday night, at Madison Square Garden, the New York Rangers defeated the Montreal Canadiens 3-1 to take the opening round series in six games. The Rangers attack was powered by Matt Zuccarello's two goals against Habs net minder Carey Price.

New York's ability to respond after being down two-games to one following three contests was the goaltending provided by Henrik Lundqvist. Backed by Lundqvist's superb play, the Rangers won the next three, thus allowing them to advance and take on the Ottawa Senators. Lundqvist made a key save late in the third period when he robbed Montreal forward Tomas Plekanec.

If the New York Rangers have any chance of extending their playoff run, Lundqvist will have to continue to be at the top of his game. Besides his status as the Rangers number one goalie, Lundqvist is the team leader on and off the ice. He leads by example and doesn't hesitate to encourage his teammates. Anchored in his goal crease, Lundqvist is like a General directing the play in front of him. When he sees something that needs correction, he will approach his fellow Ranger and raise his glove to his mask to avoid anyone eavesdropping on the conversation.

The last New York goalie to lead New York to the promised land was Mike Richter in 1994. In four playoff rounds, including the Stanley Cup Final, Richter posted a 2.07 goals-against average in 23 games. On June 14, 1994, the Rangers defeated the Vancouver Canucks in game seven to capture their first Stanley Cup since 1940.

It will be interesting to see if Lundqvist can become the next New York Rangers goalie to hoist Lord Stanley's silver mug.



Monday, April 24, 2017

A CASE OF DEJA VU

Last night, the Toronto Maple Leafs run for a Stanley Cup ended when they fell 2-1 to the Washington Capitals in overtime at the Air Canada Centre. Washington's Marcus Johanson ended the Leafs attempt to force a game seven when he beat Frederik Andersen at 6:31 of the extra-frame.

In a case of deja vu, the 1928-29 edition of the Leafs also saw their quest to advance halted in overtime by a 2-1 score. The game was played at Arena Gardens in Toronto on March 26, 1929. It was the second game in the best-of-three semi-final series between the Leafs and New York Rangers. Game one was held on March 24 at Madison Square Garden and the Rangers shutout the Leafs 1-0.

The 1929 post-season marked the Toronto Maple Leafs first appearance in the playoffs since Conn Smythe purchased the St. Patrick's and renamed them the Maple Leafs in February 1927. The Leafs won their opening round in '29 by outscoring the Detroit Cougars 7-2 in a two-game total goals showdown.


 Frank Boucher (pictured above) was the overtime scoring hero for New York in game two at Toronto. The game-winning goal came with the Leafs being shorthanded and the Rangers buzzing around Lorne Chabot, who was in goal for Toronto. "Chabot saved on one occasion by falling on the rubber, but finally during a scramble the puck was shoved into the cage," wrote Bert Perry in The Globe and Mail. "The goal counted and it won the game."

Sunday, April 23, 2017

DOWN, BUT NOT OUT


Tonight, at the Air Canada Centre, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Washington Capitals play game six of their opening round playoff series. The Caps have a 3 to 2 edge over the Leafs.

If the Leafs look to their past, they should gain inspiration from another playoff contest played 53 years-ago tonight at the Olympia in Detroit. On April 23, 1964, the Leafs and Red Wings were entangled in a close battle that eventually went into overtime. A goal by Detroit would result in them capturing the Stanley Cup and end Toronto's two-year rein as Cup champions.



During game six, Leaf defenceman, Bobby Baun, suffered a broken foot that forced him out of action. The big defender, known as "Boomer" was carried off the ice on a stretcher.  However, after receiving medical attention and the red-light from doctors, Baun returned to the Leafs defence.

At the 1:43 mark of the first overtime period, Baun fired a shot from the blueline and the puck found its way past Detroit goalie Terry Sawchuk. On the strength of Baun's goal, the Leafs left the Motor City with the series tied-up and a boat-load of confidence heading into game seven at the Gardens.

On April 25, 1964, Andy Bathgate scored what turned out to be the Cup-winning goal at 3:04 of the first period. The Leafs went on to add three more goals and blanked the Red Wings 4-0 to capture the Stanley Cup.