1970-71: Rookie Sensation Ken Dryden Stuns Boston Bruins
Dryden Stops Bruins: Despite playing almost the entire season with Rogie Vachon and Phil Myre in net, the Montreal Canadiens take a huge gamble when they turn to Cornell University graduate Ken Dryden - a near unheard of rookie - for the playoffs. Dryden pulls off one of the greatest upsets in hockey history when he shuts down Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito and the heavy Stanley Cup favorites Boston Bruins in the first round. Dryden would lead the Habs all the way to a surprise Stanley Cup championship while winning the Conn Smythe trophy as playoff MVP. All of this happens one year before Dryden officially wins the Calder trophy as rookie of the year!
NHL Expands Again: The NHL expands by two more teams, as the Buffalo Sabres and Vancouver Canucks bring the league to 14 teams. The Sabres win the right to draft superstar Gilbert Perreault while Vancouver has to settle for Dale Tallon, setting the course for each franchise for most of the next decade or more.
Sawchuk Dies In Freak Accident: Great goaltender Terry Sawchuk, 40, dies in a freak accident. He and roommate/teammate Ron Stewart are involved in a mysterious drunken off-season altercation where he suffered serious internal bleeding that soon led to his passing.
- The Bruins finished the regular season with a commanding 57-14-7 record, smashing the goals scored record with an amazing 399. Boston boasts the NHL's top four scorers and seven of the top ten.
- Phil Esposito shatters the NHL records for goals (76) and points (152) as well as shots on goal (550). He wins the Art Ross trophy, as well as the newly minted trophy - the Lester B Pearson trophy as league MVP as selected by the players.
- Bobby Orr becomes the first player to record over 100 assists, finishing with 102, obviously earning him the Norris Trophy. He also adds 37 goals, further unthinkable numbers for a defenseman. Orr wins his 2nd straight Hart Trophy.
- Johnny Bucyk's 51 goal season almost gets lost in the hoopla as finishes third with 116 points. Ken Hodge finishes with 105.
- Montreal acquires Frank Mahovlich from Detroit for Mickey Redmond, Bill Collins and Guy Charron.
- In Philadelphia a young diabetic emerges as a star. Bobby Clarke leads the Flyers to a third place finish with his fierce determination.