Today’s report features all the games from last night, plus a look towards the roster freeze deadline, which is at midnight tonight. We haven’t had a blockbuster trade in the NHL since the big Maple Leafs – Rangers swap of February 22, 1964… could a big deal be in the offing this year?
Black Hawks 3 Blues 3
Before a record crowd of 15,351 at the St. Louis Arena, the home town Blues held the Chicago Black Hawks to a 3-3 tie. It was one of the best Blues performances of the season in what was a wild and rough contest that saw the Blues battle back from a 3-1 deficit to tie the game in the third period.
After Bill McCreary’s 11th goal of the season put St. Louis up 1-0 in the first period, Chicago roared back with three markers in the middle frame. Stan Mikita scored two of those goals, giving him 37 on the season. Bobby Hull’s 42nd was sandwiched in between.
McCreary’s goal marked the end of Chicago goalie Denis DeJordy’s shutout streak. He had gone 125 minutes and 35 seconds without being beaten.
Blues got back into the contest when Red Berenson netted his 20th just 53 seconds into the third period. At 7:46 Tim Ecclestone tied it for St. Louis with his sixth. That’s how it ended, but not before the teams exchanged numerous scoring chances over the final 12 minutes. Fans were treated with some great end-to-end action, and superb goalkeeping by Chicago’s DeJordy and Glenn Hall of the Blues.
The shots on goal totals indicate just how wide open this contest was – both goaltenders had to deal with 38 drives.
Although the tie extends the Chicago unbeaten streak to seven games, the single point dropped them into third place in the NHL’s Eastern Division. That was thanks to the surging Rangers’ 4-0 win over Philadelphia.
Rangers 4 Flyers 0
The New York Rangers moved into second place in the Eastern Division with a convincing 4-0 win over the Philadelphia Flyers at the new Madison Square Garden. Ranger goalie Ed Giacomin picked up his sixth shutout of the season, but had an easy time of it. He was called upon to make only 18 saves on the night. The game was played before a sellout crowd of 17,250.
The win for the Rangers was their 31st of the season. The club record of 32 was set in 1956 and tied in 1958.
Captain Bob Nevin provided all the offence the Rangers needed with a pair of goals. Vic Hadfield and Rod Gilbert added singles, both set up by linemate Jean Ratelle. Rangers thoroughly dominated the game, outshooting the Flyers by a 31-18 count.
The slumping Flyers now have been outscored 24-5 in their last seven starts. Newly-acquired centre Art Stratton, just arrived from Pittsburgh, took a regular turn on the forward line but wasn’t able to provide the spark the Flyers are looking for.
Stratton’s presence necessitated a good deal of line-juggling by coach Keith Allen. All that seemed to do was create an air of disorganization with the players.
Flyers to Play in Garden Today
Forced out of their home rink, the Spectrum in Philadelphia, the Flyers game scheduled for today against the Oakland Seals has been moved to Madison Square Garden. It will be played this afternoon, with ticket stubs from last night’s Ranger contest being honoured as tickets for this game.
It will mark the first double-header in NHL history. The Rangers take on the Chicago Black Hawks just a few hours after the Flyers and Seals finish their game.
Maple Leafs 5 Kings 2
Toronto Maple Leafs general manager-coach Punch Imlach did what he has done so often in the past last night and it worked. Imlach relied on a couple of old hands, veteran goalie Johnny Bower and long-tie rearguard Allan Stanley to help the Leafs to a 5-2 win over the visiting Los Angeles Kings.
Bower made the big saves when needed, and Stanley set the tone of the game with a number of solid bodychecks as the Leafs scored five times in a game for the first time in several weeks. The two veterans, whose combined age would make them octogenarians, held the Kings at bay until the younger members of the squad came through with the offence.
Ron Ellis tallied twice for the home side, giving him 21 for the season. Wayne Carleton, Brian Conacher and Marcel Pronovost added singles. Eddie Joyal and Lowell MacDonald, both former Toronto farm hands, replied for the Kings.
Wayne Rutledge was in goal for Los Angeles, He was outstanding in the scoreless first period, but was unable to stem the Toronto offence once things began to click in the middle frame.
Imlach was asked after the game about his decision to insert Bower and Stanley into the lineup, despite recent poor play:
“The old guys have the heart and the desire. They can do it. I hoped it would catch on with the rest of them.”
North Stars 3 Canadiens 2
Before a crowd of 14,706 delirious home town fans, the Minnesota North Stars upset the powerful Montreal Canadiens 3-2 at the Metropolitan Sports Centre in Minneapolis. At the end of what was the North Stars best home game in of the season the crowd gave the team a lengthy standing ovation.
Most of the cheers were reserved for Minnesota right winger Wayne Connelly. He scored all three North Stars goals, his second hat trick of the season. He now has 30 goals, first player in the expansion division to reach that plateau.
Connelly scored twice in the first period and added what proved to be the game-winner at 16:21 of the final frame. Dick Duff had both Montreal goals, numbers 23 and 24 for him.
Other standouts for the Stars were defenceman Mike McMahon and goalie Cesare Maniago.
McMahon was a tower of strength on defence. He broke up numerous Montreal rushes and was particularly adept at lugging the puck out of the Minnesota zone.
Maniago made 31 saves for the North Stars, with his best work coming over the final 40 minutes. The vaunted Habs offence exerted continual pressure on Maniago, who refused to fold. He had no chance on either of Duff’s goals.
An ugly incident in the first period took place when Montreal defenceman Ted Harris took a vicious swipe with his stick at North Stars captain Bob Woytowich. Harris caught the Stars rearguard just above the left eye, cutting him for five stitches. For his trouble, Harris earned a five-minute highsticking major penalty.
Woytowich knew that he had a narrow escape:
“Another inch lower and I’d have lost the eye.”
North Stars general manager-coach Wren Blair was well aware of the importance of this game:
“Beating Montreal is an achievement any time. But these were two points we really needed. It was only our second win in the last 10 games.”
Seals 6 Penguins 6
In the wildest game in a night of great action the Oakland Seals rode five second-period goals to a 6-6 tie with the Penguins at Civic Arena in Pittsburgh.
The Penguins led 3-1 at the end of the first period, and had upped the margin to 4-1 before the Seals five-goal onslaught gave them a 6-4 lead at the end of 40 minutes.
It took third-period tallies by defenceman Al MacNeil and winger Keith McCreary to draw the home team even in the third period.
Leo Boivin, Billy Dea and Bill Speer had Pittsburgh’s first-period markers. Billy Harris’ first of two goals had Oakland on the board.
After Val Fonteyne had scored the Penguins’ fourth, the Seals began their explosion. Harris netted his second, followed by two goals each from Ted Hampson and Wally Boyer and suddenly the Seals were up by two.
Pittsburgh dominated the final 20 minutes, outshooting the Seals 16-3 en route to scoring the tying goals.
The single point for the Penguins may be a costly one. Goalie Les Binkley sustained a couple of injuries during the match, and one may sideline him for a while. After picking up a two-stitch cut on the left cheek during a play that resulted in Harris’ second goal, Binkley later injured his right hand. He will undergo x-rays today to determine if he suffered a broken finger.
Roster Deadline Tonight
National Hockey League playoff rosters must be established by each of the 12 teams by tonight at midnight. After the deadline, teams will no longer be allowed to add players to their rosters via trade or call-ups from the minor leagues. The only exceptions will be emergency recalls tp replace players felled by injury.
So with only a few hours to go, there are questions as to which teams may choose to add players, subtract players or just stand pat. And there are a few hot rumours floating around that, if they come to fruition, could shake things up around the league.
There are some minor decisions to be made for sure. Minnesota North Stars have to decide what they are going to do about their goaltending. Gary Bauman is back with the team after his two-week stint in Rochester, and Carl Wetzel is still around as well. Something will have to be cleared up there.
The Red Wings lost rookie forward Ron Anderson with a broken foot, and they may want to shore up their forward line as well.
Pittsburgh would like to increase their defensive presence, but right now, very few blueliners are available. And the fifth-place Penguins don’t have a lot to offer by way of trade.
The rumours are flying fast and furious in Toronto, where the Maple Leafs are in danger of achieving the ignominious honour of going from Stanley Cup champions to missing the playoffs. One Maple Leaf player this week said that Los Angeles Kings goalie Terry Sawchuk told him that this player was about to be traded to the Kings for defenceman Dale Rolfe and a high junior draft pick. Sawchuk said that Rolfe even had his bags packed in anticipation of the move to Toronto.
Executives from the Kings, Penguins and Red Wings paid visits to Leafs general manager Punch Imlach this week. It’s known that Imlach badly wants to unload right winger Jim Pappin, presently under suspension for refusing to report when demoted to Rochester of the American Hockey League. The Penguins and Kings both covet Pappin.
Toronto president Stafford Smythe stoked the fire a bit himself when he told reporters in Toronto last night that his club is working on two trades, hoping to complete them by midnight tonight. Smythe wouldn’t elaborate, but did hint what was being discussed was not minor in nature.
There is talk of a major, multi-player exchange that could take place between Detroit and Toronto. It’s no secret that Red Wings general manager Sid Abel needs to improve his defence and feels that retired rearguard Carl Brewer, still property of the Leafs, would be an ideal solution. One crazy story being floated had Toronto superstar left winger Frank Mahovlich and Red Wings star centre Norm Ullman exchanging uniforms.
The last major player trade that took place at the roster deadline happened on February 22, 1964. That deal, completed in the afternoon before a Saturday evening game between New York and the Leafs at Toronto, saw Ranger stars Andy Bathgate and Don McKenney head to the Maple Leafs for Bob Nevin, Dick Duff, Rod Seiling, Arnie Brown and Bill Collins.
So by midnight tonight, we should know if any or all of these changes will take effect. Expect some minor movement, but hoping that something of the magnitude of that Toronto-New York swap of 1964 might be a bit of a stretch.
Stay tuned to our Twitter feed, @1968NHLtweets for breaking trade news as it occurs.