Johnny Bower has never been better. That was the overwhelming sentiment last night at Montreal Forum as the veteran Maple Leaf goaltender put on a clinic to lead the Leafs to a 2-0 shutout win over the Montreal Canadiens. In the other National Hockey League game last night the Boston Bruins upset the Chicago Black Hawks 3-1.
Jacques Plante Impressed
No less an authority than former Canadiens netminder and future Hall of Famer Jacques Plante summed up the game best:
Sometime, somewhere, a goalie has played as well – but never better.
Bower was simply invincible in the Toronto goal. He made 34 saves and many of them were of the difficult variety.
Montreal could have put this one away easily in the first 40 minutes, which were scoreless, if it had not been for Bower. And even though the Leafs scored the game’s only goals in the final period, it was Bower again who had to save the day (and the whitewash) with a phenomenal save on Jean Beliveau in the final minute.
The game-winner was scored in the game’s 57th minute by Dave Keon on a play that Montreal fans argued bitterly was offside. They littered the ice with shoe rubbers and other debris, but referee Frank Udvari would not relent on the decision to allow the goal.
The goal in question came on a play started by Toronto defenseman Larry Hillman. Hillman fired a pass to Tim Horton who had just come onto the ice. He made a quick relay to Keon who was at the Montreal blue line and took it on his skates, right on the line. Keon broke in alone on Montreal goalie Gump Worsley. The fleet Leaf centre made a quick move as Worsley came out at him and slipped the puck into the goal.
The fans were still hooting and hollering when Frank Mahovlich added an insurance goal at 19:09 to make the final 2-0.
After the game, Plante continued with his assessment of Bower’s play:
“That was a classic exhibition of goaltending. Johnny made five stops that I would have regarded as impossible.
“At 41, he has the reflexes of a 29-year-old. Three times he had to make two saves in a row. That calls for keeping an eye on the puck and beating the second shot with reflex speed and perfect timing.
“He made two glove saves with his left hand on Claude Provost that were fantastic. He got an ankle in front of a Jean Beliveau shot. And Bobby Rousseau and Provost split the Leaf defense, walked right in and Bower beat them with unbelievable moves.
“That’s the kind of goaltending that wins Stanley Cups.”
Ed Johnston Saves Boston
Veteran Boston Bruins goalie Ed Johnston came into the game against the Chicago Black Hawks at 7:41 of the second period and made a number of spectacular saves to help the Bruins to a 3-1 win at home.
Johnston made 17 saves over the final 32 minutes and 19 seconds. The Hawks, who had 19 shots in that second period, 10 of which were at Johnston, couldn’t get anything past the Boston veteran. He entered the game after starting netminder Bernie Parent injured an ankle.
Wayne Rivers, in his first game since being called up from Hershey of the American Hockey League, scored the winning goal. It was his first goal as a Bruin. Bobby Leiter and John McKenzie also found the range for Boston.
Stan Mikita notched the only Chicago marker in the first period. Bobby Hull assisted on the goal, giving him 94 points on the season, just two short of the NHL record.
Red Wings Prospect Killed
Detroit Red Wings prospect Arthur (Butch) Paul was killed in a traffic accident yesterday in Memphis, Tenn. The incident, a head-on collision, also took the life of Betty Morris, 19 of Memphis. She and Paul were in separate vehicles.
Paul was a native of Rocky Mountain House, Alta. He turned professional last season after a great junior career with the Edmonton Oil Kings.
In his first pro season, he played 14 games with the Red Wings, scoring 3 goals. He also spent 30 games each with the Charlotte Checkers of the Eastern Hockey League and Pittsburgh Hornets of the American Hockey League.
In 68 games with Memphis of the Central Professional Hockey League this year, he had 13 goals and 47 assists.
Red Wings Eye Europe
The Detroit Red Wings are casting an eye for talent across the Atlantic Ocean to Europe. Sid Abel, general manager and coach of the Wings, says his team is looking to sponsor a European team or to work with a league in Europe. He said he wants to work with the International Ice Hockey Federation:
“Our first step is to contact Bunny Ahearne and work through him. Then if we can win his approval we would like to either sponsor a club or work with a league over there.
“It would be senseless for us to make a move without his cooperation. If he is favourable to our approach then maybe it would be possible for him to meet us over here and discuss the matter.”
Abel believes that with the NHL set to expand, Europe will be a viable source of talent. He said that if the Wings are to gain IIHF approval, they would look to Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland.
Retired police detective, involved in hockey at all levels for over 50 years. Member of Society for International Hockey Research and presently a video analyst for the leader in advanced hockey analytics (we work exclusively for 2 NHL clubs, and provide advice on an ad hoc basis to many other clients). Currently the Assistant General Manager for the Pelham Pirates of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League. Previously owned the Faceoff computer hockey simulation and also provided all player ratings for the EA Sports series of NHL computer games from the late 90’s into the mid 2000’s.