May 08, 2011

1971 Stanley Cup: Ken Dryden Takes NHL By Storm

The year is 1971. The Stanley Cup playoffs are all about one man. And he's a rookie at that, just called up a few days before the playoffs began.

The Boston Bruins are led by the high powered offense of Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito. They are poised to be hockey's next great dynasty. But in 1971 they would run into the red hot rookie goaltender in Montreal.

The man making the spectacular and unsuspecting NHL debut was Ken Dryden. Now he may be remembered as one of the greatest goalies of all time and for his off-ice interests. But back then he was a first year apprentice called up from the American Hockey League. No one expected him to start in the playoffs. This was very much Rogie Vachon's team.

To everyone's surprise, the Canadiens started the rookie at such a critical point. The first round series against Boston is now considered a classic. Dryden made spectacular save after spectacular save against the likes of Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito and Johnny Bucyk. The Habs upset the defending champs 4 games to 3. Propelled by this feat, they went on to win the Stanley Cup themselves. It is hard to believe that any of this could have happened with Dryden, a veteran of only 6 games. He had a GAA of 3.00 in 20 games, and was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.

Montreal knocked off Chicago in a memorable 7 game finals. Chicago was loaded with Bobby Hull and Dennis Hull, Stan Mikita, and, interestingly, Tony Esposito, another young goalie who just left the Montreal organization.


Anonymous said...

The '71 quarter-finals between Boston and Montreal was the classic of classics. It "should" have been a "three-peat" for the Bruins; but
they "took the gas pipe" of
inconsistency, especially on defense.

The Bruins were the heavy favorites, while Montreal just made it into the playoffs.

Boston was up by one game and leading 5 - 1 late in the second
period, in Boston Garden, no less.
Montreal works hard, scoring six unanswered goals to win, 7 - 5,
and splitting the first two games
in Boston. Orr was on the ice
for six of those seven Hab goals!

April 18th; 7th game, the Garden:
only Hodge and Buyck score
isolated goals. Esposito and
Orr score none. Orr tries to
block Tremblay, who scores the
third Hab goal, going up 3-1
through two periods. Orr tries
to be cute in the first Bruin
rush up ice, cutting in front of
Cheevers. Lemaire poke-checks
the puck away, passes to Frank
Mahovlich who scores at point-
blank range to go up 4-1. The
Bruins, and especially Orr, blew
it . . . and badly.

Boston folk will never admit this.

Unknown said...

From Boston......Do not talk to me about Phil Esposito.

The ultimate playoff choker. Had 3 measley UNIMPORTANT goals in this series.

Espo was a no show in all our playoff games over the years

Regardless......even after that disaster in game two (see youtube Apr 8 1971 worst loss in Bruin's history) we still bounced back to win games 3 and 4 and tie up the series.

Bobby Orr after a horrible game 2, notched a Hatrick in game 4.

Back home we blew them out 7-3 in game five.

We had two chances to eliminate Montreal, however we lost game six 8-3 and game seven 4-2.

IN ESSENCE,GERRY CHEEVERS "THE MONEY GOALIE") allowed 12 goals in the last two games.


Gerry played well for us in other years BUT NOT IN 1971.