1970–71 NHL season

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1970–71 NHL season
League National Hockey League
Sport Ice hockey
Duration October 9, 1970 – May 18, 1971
Number of games 78
Number of teams 14
Regular season
Season champions Boston Bruins
Season MVP Bobby Orr, (Boston Bruins)
Top scorer Phil Esposito, (Boston Bruins)
Playoffs
Playoffs MVP Ken Dryden, (Montreal Canadiens)
Stanley Cup
Champions Montreal Canadiens
  Runners-up Chicago Black Hawks
NHL seasons

The 1970–71 NHL season was the 54th season of the National Hockey League. Two new teams, the Buffalo Sabres and Vancouver Canucks made their debuts and were both put into the East Division. The Chicago Black Hawks were moved to the West Division. The Montreal Canadiens won the Stanley Cup by beating the Black Hawks in seven games in the finals.

League business[edit]

At the beginning of the season, the Oakland Seals were renamed California Golden Seals.

From this season through the 2002–03 season, teams wore their white jerseys at home and their dark jerseys on the road.

Regular season[edit]

For 1970-71 the NHL went to a balanced schedule, with each team playing each other team 6 times, three at home and three on the road, without regard to divisional alignment. Nevertheless, playoff qualification was determined entirely by divisional standings with the top four teams in each division qualifying.

This season saw a marked increase in goal scoring, especially by the Boston Bruins, who shattered dozens of scoring records as they set the mark for most goals by a team (399) by nearly a hundred over the previous record holder. They also set records for most victories (57) and points (121). Phil Esposito set records for most goals in a season with 76 and for most points with 152. Defenceman Bobby Orr won his second consecutive Hart Trophy and set a new record for assists with 102. The Bruins also had the four league leading scorers, the first time in history this was achieved (the only other time being by the Bruins in 1974), and seven of the top eleven leading scorers, the only time in NHL history this has ever been achieved. They had 6 of the top 8 scorers in the league. Furthermore, the Bruins set marks for the highest scoring single season marks at every position: center (Esposito), left wing (Johnny Bucyk with 116), right wing (Ken Hodge with 105) and defense (Orr), as well as for a forward line (Esposito centering Wayne Cashman and Hodge).

Boston won the East Division championship in a runaway. In the West Division, the powerful Chicago Black Hawks had been moved there partially to accommodate the expansion Buffalo Sabres and Vancouver Canucks (both of which were placed in the East Division) but more in an effort to provide greater balance between the divisions. Chicago broke St. Louis' stranglehold over the division, winning handily over the Blues and advancing to the Stanley Cup finals.

The Montreal Canadiens, who missed the playoffs in 1969–70, appeared to be sinking once more. Players did not like Claude Ruel's dictatorial rule as coach, and Ralph Backstrom and John Ferguson retired. Ruel resigned and Al MacNeil took over. Both Ferguson and Backstrom returned, but Backstrom was later traded to Los Angeles for draft choices.

The Vancouver Canucks played well at first and were around the .500 mark at mid-season. Then Orland Kurtenbach was injured and the team sagged.

On October 29, Gordie Howe became the first player to record 1000 assists in a 5–3 win over Boston at the Detroit Olympia.

Detroit introduced a fine rookie goaltender, Jim Rutherford, who had bright moments despite the Red Wings last place finish. However, they suffered their worst defeat in franchise history January 2, when Toronto crushed them 13–0.

On March 12, Boston's Phil Esposito broke Bobby Hull's record for goals by a player in a season at 7:03 of the first period on Denis DeJordy of Los Angeles at the Forum in Inglewood, California. Then, at 15:40 he became the first player to score 60 goals. The Bruins won 7–2.

Buffalo had a star, Gilbert Perreault, who on March 18 broke Nels Stewart's (and Danny Grant's, and Norm Ferguson's) rookie record with his 35th goal in a 5–3 win over St. Louis. He went on to finish the season with 38.

Billy Taylor and Don Gallinger, now middle-aged, were finally forgiven for their gambling in 1948 and were reinstated to the NHL. However, they did not return to the NHL.

Final standings[edit]

East Division[1]
GP W L T GF GA DIFF Pts
1 Boston Bruins 78 57 14 7 399 207 +192 121
2 New York Rangers 78 49 18 11 259 177 +82 109
3 Montreal Canadiens 78 42 23 13 291 216 +75 97
4 Toronto Maple Leafs 78 37 33 8 248 211 +37 82
5 Buffalo Sabres 78 24 39 15 217 291 -74 −74 63
6 Vancouver Canucks 78 24 46 8 229 296 -67 −67 56
7 Detroit Red Wings 78 22 45 11 209 308 -99 −99 55
West Division[1]
GP W L T GF GA DIFF Pts
1 Chicago Black Hawks 78 49 20 9 277 184 +93 107
2 St. Louis Blues 78 34 25 19 223 208 +15 87
3 Philadelphia Flyers 78 28 33 17 207 225 -18 −18 73
4 Minnesota North Stars 78 28 34 16 191 223 -32 −32 72
5 Los Angeles Kings 78 25 40 13 239 303 -64 −64 63
6 Pittsburgh Penguins 78 21 37 20 221 240 -19 −19 62
7 California Golden Seals 78 20 53 5 199 320 -121 −121 45


Playoffs[edit]

Format change[edit]

Due to three straight years of non-competitive finals (where the Western Division winning St. Louis Blues were swept all 3 years by an established Eastern Division club); the NHL changed the matchups for the semi finals by having the winner of the series between the 1st and 3rd Eastern division teams play the winner of the 2nd and 4th Western division teams. Similarly, the other semi-final series pitted the winner of the 1st vs 3rd Western division teams against the winner of the 2nd vs 4th Eastern division teams. Combined with the transfer of the Chicago Black Hawks into the Western Division (which previously consisted only of expansion teams), the Stanley Cup Final series was expected to be more competitive. The realignment and change in playoff format brought the desired results in that each Stanley Cup Final for the next 3 years was either between two Eastern Division teams or an Eastern Division team vs Chicago. None of the finals were sweeps. Until realignment in 1974-75 when the original six and expansion teams were more thoroughly mixed, the Philadelphia Flyers were the only Western Division/1967 expansion team to reach a Cup final (they won).

A significant controversy arose before the playoffs. With 4 games to play, the Minnesota North Stars were in 3rd place with a record of 28-30-16 for 72 points while the Philadelphia Flyers were in 4th at 26-33-15 for 67 points. Minnesota then lost their final four games while the Flyers went 2-0-2 to jump ahead of Minnesota in the final standings by 1 point. It was widely rumored that Minnesota did so to avoid playing the far superior Chicago Black Hawks, since at this time in the playoffs the first place team played the third place team and the second played the fourth. Nothing was proven against the North Stars (who defeated their first round opponents, St. Louis, four games to two, while the Flyers were swept by the powerful Black Hawks), but the format was changed the following year to the 1 vs. 4/2 vs.3 format that prevailed thereafter.

Playoff bracket[edit]

Quarter-finals Semi-finals Stanley Cup Final
                 
E1 Boston Bruins 3
E3 Montreal Canadiens 4
E3 Montreal Canadiens 4
W4 Minnesota North Stars 2
W2 St. Louis Blues 2
W4 Minnesota North Stars 4
E3 Montreal Canadiens 4
W1 Chicago BlackHawks 3
W1 Chicago BlackHawks 4
W3 Philadelphia Flyers 0
W1 Chicago BlackHawks 4
E2 New York Rangers 3
E2 New York Rangers 4
E4 Toronto Maple Leafs 2

Quarterfinals[edit]

(E2) New York Rangers vs. (E4) Toronto Maple Leafs[edit]

New York won series 4-2


(E1) Boston Bruins vs. (E3) Montreal Canadiens[edit]

The Montreal Canadiens were matched against the Boston Bruins, and in one of the most extraordinary upsets in hockey history, Ken Dryden was hot in goal for the Canadiens as they ousted the Bruins in seven games. Game 2 featured what many perceive as one of the greatest comebacks in NHL history. With the Bruins leading 5–2 heading into the third period, the Canadiens, who had trailed 5–1, scored 5 goals in the final session to win 7–5. The prominent Canadian sports journalist Red Fisher lists the Canadiens' comeback has the 8th most memorable moment in his over 49 years of covering hockey. In game 4, Bobby Orr became the first defenceman to get a hat trick in a playoff game when Boston won 5–2.


Montreal won series 4-3


(W2) St. Louis Blues vs. (W4) Minnesota North Stars[edit]

Minnesota won series 4-2

[2]

(W1) Chicago Black Hawks vs. (W3) Philadelphia Flyers[edit]

Chicago won series 4-0

[3]

Semi-Finals[edit]

(W1) Chicago Black Hawks vs. (E2) New York Rangers[edit]

Bobby Hull and the Chicago Black Hawks were just too much for the Rangers and the Black Hawks advanced to the finals in seven games. Hull won two games with goals on face-offs, despite Glen Sather's coverage of him to check him.


Chicago won series 4-3

[4]

(E3) Montreal Canadiens vs. (W4) Minnesota North Stars[edit]

The Canadiens' upset of Boston was so sensational that the Canadiens nearly suffered a fatal letdown against the Minnesota North Stars. The Canadiens' 6–3 loss in Montreal on April 22 to Minnesota, led by the goaltending of Cesare Maniago, would be the first playoff defeat for an Original Six team at the hands of a 1967 Expansion franchise.


Montreal won series 4-2

[5]

Stanley Cup Finals[edit]

Further information: 1971 Stanley Cup Finals

The 1971 Stanley Cup final was played by the Montreal Canadiens and the Chicago Black Hawks. The series went the full seven games, with the Canadiens winning in Chicago despite trailing 2–0 halfway into the second period of game seven. Jacques Lemaire took a shot from centre ice that miraculously escaped goaltender Tony Esposito, cutting the Black Hawks' lead to 2–1. Henri Richard tied the game just before the end of the second period, and scored again 2:34 into the third, giving the Habs the lead. Montreal goalie Ken Dryden kept Chicago off the board for the rest of the game, and the Habs won their third Stanley Cup in four years. It was the final game for Canadien superstar and captain Jean Beliveau, who retired after the season. The Canadiens were the last road team to win a Game 7 of a Stanley Cup Final until the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009. It was Al MacNeil's final game as Montreal coach — after he had benched Richard for Game 5, The Pocket Rocket declared that "[MacNeil] is the worst coach I ever played for!"[6] Although Richard retracted his "angry comment", as he called it, MacNeil still resigned.


Montreal won series 4-3

[7]

Awards[edit]

A new award for the most outstanding player as voted by the members of the NHL Players Association, the Lester B. Pearson Award, was introduced this season and the first winner was Phil Esposito.

1971 NHL awards
Prince of Wales Trophy:
(East Division champion)
Boston Bruins
Clarence S. Campbell Bowl:
(West Division champion)
Chicago Black Hawks
Art Ross Trophy:
(Top scorer, regular season)
Phil Esposito, Boston Bruins
Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy:
(Perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication)
Jean Ratelle, New York Rangers
Calder Memorial Trophy:
(Top first-year player)
Gilbert Perreault, Buffalo Sabres
Conn Smythe Trophy:
(Most valuable player, playoffs)
Ken Dryden, Montreal Canadiens
Hart Memorial Trophy:
(Most valuable player, regular season)
Bobby Orr, Boston Bruins
James Norris Memorial Trophy:
(Best defenceman)
Bobby Orr, Boston Bruins
Lady Byng Memorial Trophy:
(Excellence and sportsmanship)
Johnny Bucyk, Boston Bruins
Lester B. Pearson Award:
(Outstanding player, regular season)
Phil Esposito, Boston Bruins
Vezina Trophy:
(Goaltender(s) of team with best goaltending record)
Eddie Giacomin & Gilles Villemure, New York Rangers
Lester Patrick Trophy:
(Service to hockey in the U.S.)
William M. Jennings, John B. Sollenberger, Terry Sawchuk

All-Star teams[edit]

First Team   Position   Second Team
Ed Giacomin, New York Rangers G Jacques Plante, Toronto Maple Leafs
Bobby Orr, Boston Bruins D Brad Park, New York Rangers
J. C. Tremblay, Montreal Canadiens D Pat Stapleton, Chicago Black Hawks
Phil Esposito, Boston Bruins C Dave Keon, Toronto Maple Leafs
Ken Hodge, Boston Bruins RW Yvan Cournoyer, Montreal Canadiens
Johnny Bucyk, Boston Bruins LW Bobby Hull, Chicago Black Hawks

Player statistics[edit]

Scoring leaders[edit]

Player Team GP G A Pts PIM
Phil Esposito Boston Bruins 78 76 76 152 71
Bobby Orr Boston Bruins 78 37 102 139 91
Johnny Bucyk Boston Bruins 78 51 65 116 8
Ken Hodge Boston Bruins 78 43 62 105 113
Bobby Hull Chicago Black Hawks 78 44 52 96 32
Norm Ullman Toronto Maple Leafs 73 34 51 85 24
Wayne Cashman Boston Bruins 77 21 58 79 100
John McKenzie Boston Bruins 65 31 46 77 120
Dave Keon Toronto Maple Leafs 76 38 38 76 4
Jean Beliveau Montreal Canadiens 70 25 51 76 40
Fred Stanfield Boston Bruins 75 24 52 76 12

Source: NHL.[8]

Leading goaltenders[edit]

Note: GP = Games played; Min - Minutes Played; GA = Goals Against; GAA = Goals Against Average; W = Wins; L = Losses; T = Ties; SO = Shutouts

Player Team GP MIN GA GAA W L T SO
Jacques Plante Toronto Maple Leafs 40 2329 73 1.88 24 11 4 4
Eddie Giacomin New York Rangers 45 2641 95 2.16 27 10 7 8
Tony Esposito Chicago Black Hawks 57 3325 126 2.27 35 14 6 6
Gilles Villemure New York Rangers 34 2039 78 2.30 22 8 4 4
Glenn Hall St. Louis Blues 32 1761 71 2.42 13 11 8 2
Gump Worsley Minnesota North Stars 24 1369 57 2.50 4 10 8 0
Eddie Johnston Boston Bruins 38 2280 96 2.53 30 6 2 4
Rogie Vachon Montreal Canadiens 47 2676 118 2.64 23 12 9 2
Doug Favell Philadelphia Flyers 44 2434 108 2.66 16 15 9 2
Cesare Maniago Minnesota North Stars 40 2380 107 2.70 19 15 6 5

Other statistics[edit]

Debuts[edit]

The following is a list of players of note who played their first NHL game in 1970–71 (listed with their first team, asterisk(*) marks debut in playoffs):

Last games[edit]

The following is a list of players of note that played their last game in the NHL in 1970–71 (listed with their last team):

NOTE: Bathgate would finish his major professional career in the World Hockey Association.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • Diamond, Dan, ed. (2000). Total Hockey. Kingston, NY: Total Sports. ISBN 1-892129-85-X. 
  • Dinger, Ralph, ed. (2011). The National Hockey League Official Guide & Record Book 2012. Toronto, ON: Dan Diamond & Associates. ISBN 978-1-894801-22-5. 
  • Dryden, Steve, ed. (2000). Century of hockey. Toronto, ON: McClelland & Stewart Ltd. ISBN 0-7710-4179-9. 
  • Fischler, Stan; Fischler, Shirley; Hughes, Morgan; Romain, Joseph; Duplacey, James (2003). The Hockey Chronicle: Year-by-Year History of the National Hockey League. Lincolnwood, IL: Publications International Inc. ISBN 0-7853-9624-1. 
Notes

External links[edit]