However Dryden seemed to struggle against international competition, namely the Soviets. Phil Esposito once called a Ken Dryden a "damn octopus" because of his hulking size and quick arms and legs. For much of the series Dryden looked like a fish on land. He was clearly outplayed by Tretiak and at times his partner Tony Esposito.
Dryden had the unfortunate task of playing game one against the Soviets. His goaltending style was to cut down the angles by challenging the shooter and making the most of his immense size. But the Soviets used their cute offense consisting of sudden criss-crossing passes and shifty movement to make Dryden move around and lose his angles, and thus make him look silly at times. Backup Tony Esposito benefited from his bird's eye view on the bench to notice this and he was able to make adjustments to his game when he got the call in games 2 and 3, and stayed further back in his net and avoided challenging the shooter.
"I have been very fortunate to have played on six Stanley Cup winning teams in Montreal," wrote Dryden in Brian McFarlane's book Team Canada 1972: Where Are They Now. "But nothing in hockey ever brought me so low or took me so high. And nothing meant so much."
In an interview with the Globe and Mail in 1997, the always philosophical Dryden looked back upon the series saying that "a feeling comes before a thought comes. The feeling is a mixture of pain, satisfaction and mostly relief. And in retrospect, a sense of gratitude of having had that as an experience."
Although he is one of the NHL's all time greats, Dryden is also known as a best selling author. His book "The Game" is a legendary hockey book, but it was not his first published effort. Face-Off At The Summit - a 1973 book published by Little Brown - is an interesting look at the series through the eyes of one of the key competitors.