Monday, May 25, 2015

Fastest Three Playoff Goals, Maple Leafs 1979

This past Saturday, Anaheim blitzed Chicago for three goals in a 37 second span. They however fell short of the playoff record held by the 1979 Toronto Maple Leafs.

After an 81 point season, Toronto snuck out a 2-1 win over the 90 point Flames in Atlanta to start the playoffs. In the old best two of three Preliminary Round format, game two would be back in Toronto. To quote The Toronto Star, "In reality, the game was 23 seconds long. From 4:04 to 4:27 of the first period, the Leafs produced a record three goals, two by Darryl Sittler, one by Ron Ellis." Atlanta would make it 3-1 by the end of the first, but that's as close as they would get in a Toronto 7-4 win. The summary of the three record goals is below.

Atlanta goalie Dan Bouchard was the victim of all seven goals over the first two periods before being replaced by Rejean Lemelin. It's interesting that the third Leaf marker was assisted on by defenceman Joel Quenneville who of course was behind the bench for Chicago when they gave up the three in 37 seconds. Small world. 

Here's the actual game footage of the record eruption.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Bobby Hull & Winnipeg Jets vs. Toronto Toros, Rare Photos

My pal, Doug Petepiece has shared with me few more great photos of his as he continues combing through his personal archives. These two show the legendary Bobby Hull (pre-hair plugs) and his Winnipeg Jets playing the Toronto Toros in WHA pre-season action. The game took place at the Ottawa Civic Centre, I haven't been able to find a boxscore but from the players shown, it has to be before the 1973/74 season. 
The first photo, above is a great one showing Hull and Toronto captain Wayne Carleton sprawled out on the ice battling for the puck. Jets defender Bob Woytowtich is at the right side. This was just prior to the second year of World Hockey Association play, Hull had scored 51 goals the previous year and would ripple the mesh 53 more times in the upcoming campaign. Carleton had scored 22 goals for Boston and 17 for California Golden Seals in the early 1970's. After jumping to the WHA he topped the Ottawa Nationals with 91 points in 1972/73, before the franchise moved to Toronto. He repeated the feat in 73/74 with 92 points. Woytowich was a veteran of 503 NHL games before jumping to Winnipeg, he would notch a career high 34 points in 73/74.
Below is another photo from the game, a great action shot filled with players. Left to right we have #7 Chris Bordeleau who had played four seasons in the NHL before joining Winnipeg in the inaugural WHA season. He scored 101 points that first year and would collect another 75 in this upcoming year.  The Winnipeg goaltender is one of two men. Both Ernie Wakely and Joe Daley had the same mask at this time and without a number visible, it's difficult to tell who it is.  
The first Toronto Toro is #8 Rick Sentes a Left Winger who would gather 56 points for the Toros in 73/74. His WHA career included stops with the San Diego Mariners and Calgary Cowboys. His 85 points with San Diego in 74/75 would prove to be a career high.

Winnipeg #3 is defenceman Bob Ash, a long-time minor pro who got the opportunity at the big time when the WHA started. Toronto's Wayne Carleton is shown once again on all fours and there even appears to be a Jet underneath him. Perhaps he had a bad sharpening job prior to this game. 
The helmeted Toro, #17 is Right Winger Tom Martin. He was a 5th overall selection by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 1964 amateur draft and would play three games with them in 1967/68 scoring a lone goal. These would be his only three NHL games. Martin scored 57 points in the 73/74 season and would finish out his career with four years in Sweden.
The player on the far right appears to be #25 for Winnipeg, Fran Huck. The 5'7" Huck was a junior scoring sensation for the Regina Pats before playing five full seasons with the Canadian National team. Huck finally turned pro in 1969/70 and played four seasons in the Montreal and St.Louis organizations. He topped out at 36 points in 58 games for the Blues in 72/73. In this 73/74 season for Winnipeg, Huck produced 74 points in as many games.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Bobby Orr, Rare Photo with Chicago

Orr being chased by Pierre Mondou in one of his final games ever.
Above is another fantastic, never-before-seen photo from the files of my cyber-buddy Doug Petepiece. Doug has been a photojournalist for four decades based out of Eastern Ontario and has in the past shared some of his great shots with me. The photo is of all-time great, Bobby Orr while playing with the Chicago Blackhawks. The question is, which game is it from?

Orr, while a member of the Hawks played Montreal in the regular season only twice and both times were in Chicago. Doug suggested it may have been from a pre-season match that took place in Ottawa (where he did a lot of his work). Sure enough, a search of google archives finds a game that fits the photo. On Sept 26, 1978 Montreal beat Chicago 4-2 at the Ottawa Civic Centre. Below I paraphrase an article from the Montreal Gazette dated Sept. 27, 1978.

"It's coming better each day," Orr said, "I'm happy with it. I feel it's getting easier each day. There is still a little way to go." 

Orr had played a mere twenty games for Chicago in 1976/77 before sitting out the entire 77/78 campaign. After additional surgery to his ravaged knees, he was on the comeback trail once again in the fall of 1978.

Orr continued, "Things are going very well. They are progressing about the way I want them to. I've put a lot of pressure on the knee but I'm very happy and it's great to be back on the ice." Glenn Cole, Montreal Gazette writer stated in his article from the game, "He was not carrying the puck that often and seemed to be having trouble when he was forechecked in his own end." Canadien, Serge Savard is quoted, "He seems to be alright when he skates in a straight line. He's not as fast right now."

Savard was correct in his analysis. After playing in only six of Chicago's first eleven games to start the 1978 season, Orr had to hang 'em up. Versus Detroit on October 28, a game in which he scored his final NHL goal, he was also on the ice for four goals against. On this Orr himself said," I played terrible." He added, "I worked hard but I now know for sure that my leg cannot handle playing."

Orr would play one more game on November 1 against Vancouver before officially retiring on November 8. Doug was lucky enough to witness and capture on film one of the final games of one of the greatest careers ever.

Doug sent two more great pics of Orr from the same game. The first one is my favourite, Doug must have been hanging right over the boards at the blue line to capture this great shot. It looks like Larry Robinson and Stan Mikita off in the distance and I would guess it's Michel Larocque in net (he and Dryden split this game). The mask on the goalie looks slightly longer like Bunny's as opposed to Dryden's smaller mask.

The last one is another of Orr in mid fall with it appears to be Phil Russell to the right side. Another terrific, never-seen photo from the files of Doug Petepiece.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Patrick Kane In Elite Playoff Company

I saw an interesting stat while watching the NHL playoffs the other day, Chicago's Patrick Kane had just surpassed the 100 career playoff game plateau and he was one of the few in NHL history to play that many games AND average at least a point per game. There are only twenty players that can make this claim, three of them are currently active (Crosby, Malkin the others). The list below includes most of the obvious names one would expect, and a few that may surprise.

                                                              Player        GP Pts    Pts/GP-RegSeasonPts/GP
  • Gretzky      208 382  1.84-1.92
  • Lemieux     107 172  1.61-1.88
  • Messier       236 295  1.25-1.07
  • Bossy          129 160  1.24-1.50
  • Crosby        100 118  1.18-1.36
  • Kurri           200 233  1.17-1.12
  • Forsberg      151 171  1.13-1.25
  • Malkin         101 111  1.10-1.20
  • Beliveau      162 176  1.09-1.08
  • Sakic            172 188  1.09-1.19
  • Bobby Hull  119 129  1.08-1.10
  • Linseman     113 120  1.06-0.94
  • Esposito       130 137   1.05-1.24
  • Lafleur         128  134  1.05-1.20
  • D.Savard      169  175  1.04-1.12
  • Gilmour       182  188  1.03-0.96
  • K.Stevens    103  106  1.03-0.83
  • G.Howe       157  160  1.02-1.05
  • Coffey          194  196  1.01-1.09
  • P.Kane         102  102  1.00-0.97
One thing is obvious and fully expected, it's more difficult to collect points in the post-season. 15 of the 20 players produce at either close to the same rate as in the regular season (like Kane) or well below. Mark Messier's reputation as a consumate playoff performer is illustrated in the fact that his points per game in the playoffs rose considerably from 1.07 to 1.25. Two other guys that ramped up their production in the post-season may surprise. Both Kenny Linseman and Kevin Stevens raised their points per game when the games really mattered.

Linesman scored at least 20 points in a playoff season three times and even when he was more of a role player with Edmonton in the mid-1980's he managed to produce 14 points in back-to-back years.
Stevens topped the NHL with 17 playoff goals in 1991 while collecting 33 points, then followed up with 28 points the next year. The way Patrick Kane has been scoring this current post-season he may climb up the career playoff point per game list fairly quickly. 
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