One can’t blame the other five National Hockey League general managers for getting a little nervous. The Toronto Maple Leafs, defending Stanley Cup champions, suddenly appear to be rounding into form just in time for the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Leafs showed off their scoring prowess last night as they annihilated the New York Rangers 10-1 right in Madison Square Garden.
The other two NHL games saw Detroit down Chicago 5-1 while Montreal had no trouble with Boston, whipping the Bruins 5-2.
Kelly with the hat-trick
All along, while the Leafs suffered through their latest 12-game stretch before this weekend, general manager Punch Imlach insisted his club would be primed and ready for the playoffs. Now, with only a couple of games to play, the Leafs awakened from their slumber and outscored the Rangers 14-2 in a pair of weekend games. And even though it was against fifth place New York, hardly a powerhouse, the Leafs looked very good.
Veteran Red Kelly, who has been fairly consistent all season, opened the scoring last night after 15 minutes of play. He added two more goals for a 3-goal night to lead the Leafs. The redhead now has 18 goals on the season. Rookie Ron Ellis scored a pair, giving him 21, a fine total for a first-year NHL player. Captain George Armstrong also had a big game, scoring twice and adding three assists for a five-point evening. Other Leaf scorers were Andy Bathgate, Frank Mahovlich and Bob Pulford. Bathgate added three assists as well.
Don Marshall was the only Ranger to beat Johnny Bower in the Leaf goal. He scored off a Rod Gilbert rebound after 27 seconds of play in the final frame.
Bower was solid for the second night in a row as he plays himself back into shape for the post-season. He made 28 saves. He was very sharp in the first half of the game, when the issue was still in doubt.
Ranger netminder Marcel Paille seemed to show the fatigue one would expect him to suffer after facing as many shots as he does in the Ranger goal. He wasn’t at his best.
This was the second time Toronto has amassed 10 goals in a game this year. On December 5, they bombed Detroit 10-2.
Howe’s hat-trick humbles Hawks
Gordie Howe, the veteran super-star right-winger of the Detroit Red Wings, continues to show no signs of slowing down as the NHL season winds its way toward conclusion. Howe fired three goals for the Red Wings last night as they drubbed the Chicago Black Hawks 5-1 at the Olympia in Detroit.
The win for Detroit was their 13th straight at home, matching the NHL record set by the Montreal Canadiens in the 1943-44 season. The Wings remained two points in front of Montreal in the race for first place.
Playing just 11 days before his 37th birthday, Howe scored a goal in each period for the 14th hat-trick of his 19-year career. His last three-goal game was against Toronto on New Year’s Eve, 1961.
Norm Ullman scored his 39th for Detroit, on a set-up by Howe, moving him into a tie with Bobby Hull for the NHL goal-scoring lead. The other Red Wing goal came off the stick of defenceman Pete Goegan, who was called up earlier in the day from Pittsburgh of the American Hockey League.
Detroit rookie goalkeeper Roger Crozier handled 20 of 21 Chicago shots in a tidy performance. The only goal to beat him was Camille Henry’s 26th of the season, on a power play.
The Wings had 43 shots at Hawks goalie Denis DeJordy.
Hat-trick for Backstrom
In the other NHL game, Ralph Backstrom scored the first hat-trick of his NHL career to lead the Montreal Canadiens past the Boston Bruins 5-2. Jean Beliveau added two goals to give the Habs their fifth straight win as they continue to put pressure on first-place Detroit. The win clinches at least second place for Canadiens.
Boston goals came from rookie Billy Knibbs and veteran John Bucyk. Goalie Jack Norris played well in a losing cause for the Bruins, making 34 saves. Had it not been for his work, the score would have been much more lop-sided.
Backstrom is having a fine season, now with 24 goals after netting only eight last year. He was thrilled at scoring three times.
“My first hat-trick in seven years. I hope I don’t go seven years for the next one.”
Brawls ends EHL game
An Eastern Hockey League game between the Nashville Dixie Flyers and the Knoxville Knights was called off only five minutes into the first period as a result of a wild stick-swinging brawl involving players and coaches on and off the ice. About 750 of the 3000 fans present in Knoxville stormed the box office demanding refunds. (The rest presumably felt they got their money’s worth.)
Festivities commenced when Nashville tough guy Lloyd Hinchberger and Les Calder of the Knights came together on the boards. Both went down and came up swinging their sticks at each other. All players on the ice became involved as things degenerated into a general melee.
Hinchberger challenged Knoxville playing coach Don Labelle, who was sitting on the bench. Labelle responded by swinging his stick at Hinchberger. Both benches then got involved, with the Knoxville players flailing away at the Nashville bench with their sticks. The fighting continued on and off the ice in the bench areas for about 15 minutes.
Referee Yves Tessier attempted to mete out penalties, but was rebuffed at every try to restore order. He finally threw up his hands in dismay and called the game off.
Tessier said afterwards, “I was hired to referee a hockey game, not a killing match.”
None of the players involved seemed to be injured to any serious extent.
Dave Patterson, owner of the Nashville club, demanded that his team be awarded the game. Dusty Blair of the Dixie Flyers scored the game’s only goal about two minutes into the first period. Patterson also threatened to withdraw his team from the playoffs.
The game was already being played under protest by Nashville over the Knights’ use of substitute players. Knoxville was using two Greensboro players after they declared that two of their players had been injured in Saturday night’s game, won 3-2 by the Knights.
One of the Greensboro players, Don Carter, is the league’s second-leading scorer.
League president Tom Lockhart said he will decide later on the basis of all facts whether the game will be replayed.
Marlies oust Junior Habs
The Toronto Marlboros eliminated the Montreal Junior Canadiens with an 8-1 win over the Junior Habs last night in their OHA Junior A playoff game at Maple Leaf Gardens.
The Marlies were led by goaltender Gerry Desjardins and defenceman Jim McKenney, who played his best game of the series.
Desjardins, who was tabbed by coach Jim Gregory as Toronto’s most improved player, made 42 saves in a game that was closer than the lop-sided score would indicate. Most of Montreal’s scoring chances were from close range.
McKenney dominated at both ends of the ice, scoring a goal and four assists. He lugged the puck out of the Toronto end on numerous occasions. He also drew three minor penalties.
Montreal goaltender Fern Rivard reverted back to the form he displayed early in the series, giving up several soft goals. He was replaced at the beginning of the third period by 16-year-old Edward Ouimet.
Other Toronto scorers were Mike Corrigan and Gerry Meehan with two each, and Neil Clarke, Brit Selby and Wayne Carleton with singles. Craig Patrick, whose long shot fooled Desjardins in the second period, was the only Montreal goal-getter.
Montreal coach Scotty Bowman blamed himself for the loss.
“I should have stuck to my original idea and dropped Rivard after the second game. I figure Rivard let me down in the series”
Bowman also said that he told Ouimet that he is his goaltender for next season.
Toronto now advances to play the Peterborough Petes, who eliminated St. Catharines nearly a week ago.
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.