"Esposito has scored for Canada!"
Venue: Maple Leaf Gardens.
Series: 1-0 USSR
I am writing these posts as I watch the games on DVD.
In the pre-game ceremony, Lester Pearson awards the Lester Pearson Trophy (most outstanding player as voted by the players) to Jean Ratelle of the New York Rangers. Ratelle scored 46 goals and 109 points in 63 games in the 1971-72 season.The Soviet players then skate onto the ice and get a respectful applause from the crowd.
The Canadians had new faces in their line up. Notably: Tony Esposito in goal. Stan Mikita, Wayne Cashman, Serge Savard and J.P. Parise (father of Zach Parise). More physical players. The game plan was clear. The Soviets were going to see more of the Canadian style of hockey. The Soviets added veteran Vyacheslav Starshinov. Could the Canadians manage to match the Soviet stamina so evident in Game 1?
The game has a terrific pace at the start. Both teams getting chances with the slight edge going to the Russians. There is a slight increase of physicality from Canada but not much yet. A lot of shots going wide. Suddenly Phil Esposito has a chance from his campsite (the front and center of the net) and is stopped by Vladislav Tretiak. That was the best chance 10:00 in. Tretiak makes another save on a slapper from Ron Ellis. Another stop off the draw.
A lot of problems with the line changes throughout the
period. Who's the home team? Who gets the last change?
Just gotta say, Frank Mahovlich skates like the wind. He was very noticeable in Game 1 as well. Awesome player. Also noticeable is the play of defenceman Brad Park. Smooth skater, loves to carry the puck, and makes smooth passes. He reminds me of Paul Coffey.
Canada is playing well defensively when under pressure. They are even dictating the play now. Lots of pressure. Tight-checking. Bah! Brad Park takes a cross-checking penalty. Tony Esposito makes a huge stop after the Russians pass the puck across his crease for the one-timer. Wow. That was amazing. That was it for the Soviet scoring chances on that power play as Canada is really pressuring them. A big stop by Tretiak on Clarke minutes later.
Paul Henderson goes off for tripping and there is some chatting between players going on as the whistle sounds. I wonder if the Canadians are suspecting the Soviets are diving.
On the PP, Valeri Kharlamov dekes around 3 Canadians and then gets decked. That's the first big hit of the series. Then Esposito makes a couple of solid saves as the Russians press. Another pad save by Espo.
The physicality increases. Players are getting dumped all over the place. The Russians are getting away with trips repeatedly. The intensity rises.
Shots in the 1st: Canada 10, Russia 7
I have a feeling this game is going to get nasty soon, if the 1st period was any indication. Let's see if the Canadians can keep the pedal to the metal this time around.
More issues with the line changing. The matter of home team getting the last change has not been settled yet.
Big save by Esposito on Boris Mikhailov! Another save! And another save on Mikhailov! This one with the blocker. Man, Esposito has been stellar.
Alexander Gusev gets busted for tripping. Good thing, because the Russians have come out with a vengeance. Big stop by Tretiak on Mikita on a shot from about 15 feet out.
Still on the PP, another big stop by Tretiak, this time on a wrister by Phil Esposito from the left side. Now the Russians get served a bench penalty (not sure why). Ooo! The Canadians are dishing out the hits along the boards now.
Moments later, Phil Esposito gets dumped in the offensive zone. He kinda stays down and looks back at the ref, sees the arm go up and gets up. The Russians have not touched the puck yet. Phil goes to the front of the net and the puck is free. He pulls the puck backhand to forehand and scores! 1-0 Canada at the 7:14 mark. Assists by Park and Cashman. Amazing how often Espo is in front of that net. Jeez. So effective. He's like Tomas Holmstrom but 100 times better.
Canada keeps pressing after the goal. Tretiak makes 2 stops on Dan Ellis. Now some shoving going on as the Canadians bump into Tretiak a bit. The Russians are clearly off their game, as Canada is not seeming to lose their legs this time.
I just saw a Savard-ian spinorama. Lovely.
Canada just isn't giving the Soviets any space to play their fancy style. They are all over these guys. More hits. More hooks. More attack. I like it!
Did Kharlamov just shove a referee? Lucky he only got a 10:00 misconduct. Russians are coming unglued.
Shots in the 2nd Period: Canada 16, Russia 5. Woo! Russians are lucky Tretiak is saving their carcasses.
Good lord, 1:19 seconds in (on the PP still) Brad Park makes a remarkable pass to a streaking Yvan Cournoyer who blows by everyone on the right side goes in a makes no mistake. 2-0 Canada!
Check it out (lousy vid quality but you get the drift:)
Now the Russians start attacking down 2 goals but Tony Esposito is continuing his stellar play.
Woa! Hip check by Gary Bergman in open ice! Bobby Clarke takes a slashing penalty seconds later. The Soviets go to work. First a breakaway by Yevgeny Zimin which he shoots wide. Yuri Liapkin gets the puck in the corner and puts it out front to big #15 Alexander Yakuschev who buries the puck through Esposito's legs. Where was the defence? Yeesh. 2-1 Canada now. The Russians are alive. Pat Stapleton hooks a Russian forward seconds after the goal to prevent him from breaking in alone. Penalty. Uh-oh.
Nevermind! Peter Mahovlich scores an absolute beauty seconds later, beating a Russian defender 1 on 1 and then deking Tretiak out of his jock. 3-1 Canada! Huuuge goal.
Stan Mikita gets a beauty chance in front moments later but is stopped. But Tretiak cannot stop Frank Mavolich seconds later as Soviets cough it up in their own zone. 4-1 Canada! (Assists by Mikita and Cournoyer). What happened, USSR? This game is the exact opposite of Game 1.
The Russians look shell-shocked/stunned/deflated in the latter stages of the 3rd period. The Canadians keep attacking. How quickly they have gotten back into shape and regrouped.
Huge save by Tretiak on a Henderson slap shot.
Game over! Terrific effort by Canada!
Shots in the 3rd: Canada 10, Russia 9.
Shots overall: Canada 36 Russia 21.
Player of the game (my opinion): Tony Esposito.
The writers in 1972 picked: Tretiak for Russia and Tony Esposito for Canada.
Phil Esposito said after the game: "This is bigger than winning the Stanley Cup as far as I am concerned!"
-Game recap at 1972SummitSeries.com. You gotta check that site out. It has the rosters, links to articles, interviews, and more.
-Game 2 Highlights: