February 2

Five National Hockey League games on the schedule last night, with the highlight being a record-setting performance by the hottest team in many years, the Montreal Canadiens. We have details on all the games, plus Leafs goalie Johnny Bower talks retirement!

Canadiens 5 Rangers 2

The Montreal Canadiens now own the longest NHL winning streak since the 1929-30 season. They put up their 11th straight victory with a 5-2 drubbing of the New York Rangers last night at the Forum in Montreal. And they are now unbeaten in 15.

It was the Boston Bruins who won 14 straight in 1929-30. The Bruins also hold the NHL record 23 games without a loss in 1940-41.Screen Shot 2018-02-02 at 9.25.43 AM

The last time a Montreal team won as many as 11 straight games dates back to 1926-27. The longest unbeaten streak in their history is 18 games, set in the 1959-60 season when the Habs won the last of their five straight Stanley Cups.

Three power play goals powered the Habs in this one. Dick Duff, Yvan Cournoyer, Claude Provost, Jacques Laperriere and Jean Beliveau were the Montreal marksmen. Rod Seiling and Camille Henry scored for the Rangers.

Claude Provost was again Montreal’s best player for the second straight game. After a great game on Tuesday against Toronto, Provost put on another stifling checking display against the Rangers. He also found time to score the game-winning goal.

Claude Provost, with coach Toe Blake.

Goaltender Rogatien Vachon was brilliant for the home side, especially in a third period when New York fired a barrage of 17 shots as the diminutive puckstopper, beating him only once. His biggest stops came during a stretch of 72 seconds when Canadiens were two men short thanks to penalties to John Ferguson and Laperriere. Jean Ratelle, Bob Nevin, Rod Gilbert and Jim Nielson all were robbed by Vachon as the Rangers buzzed around the Montreal goal.

Ranger coach Emile Francis lifted goalie Ed Giacomin with 1:25 to play, trailing 4-2. That’s when Beliveau notched his 20th of the season, a 100-foot slider that went into the centre of the New York net.

That’s the 11th time in 15 NHL seasons that Big Jean has hit the 20-goal plateau.

Francis moaned about penalties, but was particularly unhappy with his blue line corps:

“Penalties killed us for the second straight night. But what’s happened to our defencemen? They’re not hitting and Brown didn’t even lean on Provost when he cut in for that goal.”

Henri Richard was once again in uniform for Montreal, but saw the ice for only one shift. He made an appearance on the first Habs power play of the night, but briefly tangled with Ranger rearguard Jim Neilson and took a minor penalty. He didn’t play thereafter.

Coach Toe Blake said that he wasn’t punishing Richard:

“I’d liked to have used him more, but the lines are going so well I hate to break them up.”

The win leave Canadiens with 59 points, tops in the Eastern Division. They are two points up on Chicago, with Boston four back in third spot.

Kings 8 Red Wings 6

In the best individual performance in the league last night, Detroit Red Wings right winger Floyd Smith scored four goals, but it wasn’t enough as his Red Wings dropped an 8-6 decision to the visiting Los Angeles Kings in Detroit. Bill Flett led the Kings with three markers.

Floyd Smith

Real Lemieux, a former Red Wing, fired a pair for Los Angeles. Howie Hughes, Ted Irvine and Bill White had the others. Alex Delvecchio and Gordie Howe supported Smith’s big night with single tallies.

A wild seven-minute span in the second period proved fatal for the Wings. That’s when Los Angeles poured in five goals past Detroit goalkeeper Roy Edwards and turned a 2-1 deficit into a 6-3 lead. Red Wings coach Sid Abel lifted Edwards at the 10:07 mark of the period and threw Roger Crozier into the breach.

A down-trodden Edwards described the nasty experience after the game:

“That puck was moving around so much out there, I felt like I was playing Chinese checkers.”

Abel said he replaced Edward more out of sympathy for the 30-year-old rookie:

“I didn’t want him to get in the dumps. Really, most of the goals were no fault of his and I thought the change turned things around.”

Kings goalie Wayne Rutledge faced 47 Detroit drives and was visibly weary at the final whistle. While six shots did get past him, his two spectacular saves early in the third period probably saved the win for the Kings. He robbed Smith on what would have been a fifth of the night and then snagged what appeared to be a sure goal by Detroit defenceman Gary Bergman on a power play.

Red Wings had a big chance to come back on a power play with eight minutes to play. But Rutledge came up big again with stops on Howe, Norm Ullman and Paul Henderson.

Henderson wore a helmet for the first time. The headgear lasted only two periods, however. He removed it for the third, saying the irritation it caused was too much for him to concentrate on the play.

“My wife got after me to wear it. I had a concussion when I was in junior hockey and wore one then for a while. But it kept bothering me tonight the sweating and the pressure so I just couldn’t think straight.”

Penguins 2 Blues 0

Rookie forward Bobby Rivard, playing in only his fourth NHL game, scored his first two NHL goals for the Pittsburgh Penguins and that’s all they needed to blank the St. Louis Blues 2-0 at Civic Arena in Pittsburgh. It was quite a reversal for the Penguins, who just 24 hours earlier had been blasted by the Blues 9-4 in St. Louis.Screen Shot 2018-02-02 at 9.28.59 AM.png

Rivard, 28, had recently been called up from Baltimore of the American Hockey League. He had starred in the minor league’s top loop, being named rookie of the year last season when he was with the Quebec Aces. The Penguins picked him up in last season’s expansion draft. Prior to that, he had toiled in the International Hockey League for six seasons.

Rivard scored both of his markers in the first period. Veteran Val Fonteyne assisted on both. Rivard was easily the game’s first star, and could have, with a little luck, had one or two more goals.

Penguins goalie Les Binkley rebounded nicely after the debacle of the night before. After giving up seven goals in 40 minutes in St. Louis, Binkley was unbeatable in his home corral. He made 22 saves for his fifth shutout of the season. That ties him for the league lead with Minnesota’s Cesare Maniago.

Black Hawks 4 Bruins 4

Red-hot Dennis Hull scored his second goal of the game, and fourth in two days, with exactly one minute left  to lift the Chicago Black Hawks into a 4-4 tie with the Bruins in Boston.

Dennis Hull

Hull’s goal was particularly galling for the Bruins, who had taken the lead on home ice only 59 seconds earlier on a brilliant but hotly disputed goal by Bobby Orr.

Orr, who is developing into one of the most exciting players in the league, was credited with the goal by referee Vern Buffey after a spectacular end to end rush. At the end of Orr’s foray into the Chicago zone, he crashed into goalie Dave Dryden with the end result seeing Orr, Dryden and the puck all in the Chicago goal.

The entire Black Hawks bench erupted when Buffey signaled a score. The Hawks felt Orr had preceded the puck into the net, but Buffey ruled otherwise and the marker stood.

Boston fans, appreciative of another stellar effort by Orr, gave a prolonged ovation that deteriorated into a fight among the spectators behind the home side’s bench. It took a few minutes for police to restore order.

Dennis Hull’s tying goal came thanks to leg work by his brother Bobby. The elder Hull made a rink-length rush down the left side. Instead of unloading one of his patent blasts from the wing, Bobby made a pin-point pass to his younger sibling, standing directly in front of Bruins goalie Ed Johnston. Dennis whipped a quick wrister past Johnston before he could react.

Other scorers for the visitors were Chico Maki and Stan Mikita. Boston also got goals from Ed Westfall and former Hawks Ken Hodge and Fred Stanfield.

Dave Dryden, normally the understudy to regular goalie Denis DeJordy, was in the net for the fourth straight game for Chicago, and he played well. Bruins outshot the Black Hawks by 37-29.

Seals 3 Flyers 3

Philadelphia Flyers rallied for two goals in the final period to gain a 3-3 tie with the Oakland Seals at Philadelphia. Before a crowd of 6,386 at The Spectrum, Billy Sutherland and Don Blackburn scored at 9:11 and 14:58 to erase a 3-1 Seals lead.

Flyers led 1-0 after only 2:49 of the first period on Forbes Kennedy’s sixth of the year.

The Seals then scored three straight, with John Brenneman in the first, and captain Bob Baun and Gerry Ehman in the second, doing the damage. That set the stage for the Flyers’ late goals in the final frame.

Flyers goalie Doug Favell made some great saves in the dying moments with the Seals putting on a final push. His best was a toe save on a Wally Boyer rebound shot.

The tying goal by Blackburn was not without some controversy. The goal came off a scramble in the Seals goal crease. The goal judge’s view was blocked and he never did turn on the red light to signal a score. But referee Bill Friday was perfectly positioned and signalled the goal. He explained the situation after the game:

“The shot hit the goalie’s back and went across the goal line on the ice. It was completely across the goal line, by about three inches.

“An Oakland defenceman, Larry Cahan, fell into the net at the same time and he knocked the puck back out with his glove. The defenceman blocked the goal judge’s view and the puck wasn’t in there very long anyway.”

Bower to Retire?

Toronto Maple Leafs 44-year-old wonder, goalie Johnny Bower, may be considering retirement. At least that is the word coming out of Toronto this week. Bower, who has played professional hockey for 24 season, told The Toronto Star’s Jim Proudfoot that he’s been giving the idea of retirement a lot of thought:

Johnny Bower with coach Punch Imlach

“I just don’t know. Sometimes I really think it would be  good idea. I’ll tell you this – everything is ready for me to quit. I have a good job I can start at tomorrow, or any time. And I know I can’t go on playing hockey forever. Some day, I’ll have to retire and maybe it ought to be when things are going well, like now.

“Still, where could I make this kind of money?

“I’ve had the same job – as a sales representative – for the past three summers. The arrangement is that any September I don’t go to training camp, I can just stay on with the company permanently.

“But maybe it’s time for me to work at this permanently and get myself established.

“I’ve been saying all along that this is my last year but nobody will take me seriously. I guess it’s when I’m tired and aching all over that I decide this should be the end.  Then I get feeling good, like now, and start to play well again and I change my mind and figure heck, I can go on for years and years.”

Toronto general manager-coach Punch Imlach scoffed at the idea of Bower’s stepping back from the game:

“Bower quit? That’s crazy! Why, he’s better than he ever was. And his age means absolutely nothing. He’s got a job with us as long as he’s good enough and I don’t care if he’s 90.”

Quick Hits

  • Ron Ellis of the Toronto Maple Leafs, who wore a helmet for a time after having a concussion as a rookie, tried it again Tuesday in Montreal. He discarded it part-way through the game and says he likely won’t try it again.
  • Rex MacLeod of the Toronto Globe and Mail says that St. Louis Blues general manager Lynn Patrick is trying to convince centre Red Berenson to stop wearing his helmet. Berenson has had the head protection as part of his equipment since he played college hockey in Michigan.
  • Toronto Maple Leafs general manager-coach Punch Imlach is considering a couple of call-ups to bolster his sagging team. Names most frequently mentioned are two young defencemen for the Tulsa Oilers of the Central Professional Hockey League – Mike Pelyk and Jim Dorey.

    Bronco Horvath
  • Minnesota North Stars general manager Wren Blair says his recent appeal for player help in the wake of the death of Bill Masterton drew only two positive responses. Blair says that only Punch Imlach of Toronto and Montreal’s Sam Pollock said they would try and work something out for Blair. That led to the sale of centre Bronco Horvath to Minnesota from the Toronto organization.
  • Rogatien Vachon and Gump Worsley of the Montreal Canadiens have taken over first place in the Vezina Trophy race for best goals-against average for a team.
  • Writers in Montreal notice that Rogatien Vachon’s sideburns are getting longer and longer. They postulate that coach Toe Blake will allow the diminutive netminder to keep them until he loses a game.
  • Pittsburgh Penguins trainer Ken Carson had to have pieces of steel removed from an eye. The fragments lodged there when Carson was sharpening skates.
  • As Madison Square Garden gets set to host its final game, the question of who scored the first goal in the building was asked. The answer to that trivia question is Shorty Green, of the New York Americans.
  • OHA Junior A play in Hamilton last night saw the Red Wings double the Toronto Marlboros 4-2. Danny Lawson led the way for Hamilton with two goals, Renald Leclerc and Jim McInally added singles. Terry Caffery and Glen Siddal replied for the Marlies. Star of the game was Hamilton goalie Gerry Gray.
  • Rochester Americans of the AHL will be sending centre Bill Sweeney to Memphis of the CPHL. Sweeney was picked up about a month ago from Vancouver of the Western Hockey League after he ran into disciplinary trouble there. That’s been a recurring theme throughout Sweeney’s career. He is the only player in AHL history to win three consecutive scoring titles.
  • Ken Dryden of Toronto is the talk of U.S. college hockey. He plays for the powerful Cornell University club and has a goals-against average of 1.33.

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