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.