Game 091 – Canadiens 1, Maple Leafs 0

Game 091
Canadiens 1, Maple Leafs 0
Saturday, December 7, 1929
Arena Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

It was distinctly stated when the present NHL code of rules was palmed off on an innocent and unsuspecting public that it would result in more goals being scored, less bell ringing and more spectacular and speedier playing.

It remained for the Maple Leafs and the Montréal Canadiens to show the utter fallacy of such contentions at the Arena Gardens Saturday night. The Flying Frenchmen won the game 1 to 0 when Pit Lépine’s shot from the corner of the rink glanced off “Happy” Day’s skate into the net before Lorne Chabot could move a muscle to block it. That happened in the second period, and only for the fact that Mr. Day’s skate intervened, the teams might have played for 17 minutes without a tally.

The contest produced fewer goals than the Leafs and Canadiens have scored in previous meetings here during the past three seasons. There was more bell ringing on the part of the officials than most games under the former rules produced. And as an exhibition of speedy hockey, it left plenty to be desired. The new rules are a fraud, and the capacity crowd that viewed Saturday night’s game must have painfully conscious of the hoax the NHL has imposed upon the great winter pastime.

The one redeeming feature of the fracas was the marvellous exhibition of goalkeeping given by George Hainsworth. Nothing finer has been seen here in many moons. He was worth any two other men the Canadiens had on the ice. In the final minutes of the conflict, when two members of the Canucks reposed in the penalty box, the Leafs maintained a five man attack that bottled the visitors around their own net, and shot after shot was turned aside by Hainsworth, who was literally surrounded by Toronto players at times, and each one of them in turn taking shots at him. On several occasions the Leafs had some glowing chances to tie the score, but always the little goalkeeper thrust his padded bulk into the way of the flying rubber.

The forward passing game was worked at all times by both teams, but strong defensive play robbed it of its scoring effectiveness. Frank Patrick, the Pacific Coast League magnate who first introduced the forward passing game into hockey, was right when he stated a few weeks ago that the NHL teams would soon find a means of defence to cut down the scoring that marked the earlier fixtures under the new rules. The Leafs and Canadiens demonstrated the nature of that defence when they gave their entire attention to puck carrier in the centre ice zone, and checked him before he crossed the blue line into the goal zone.

The puck carrier cannot pass the rubber until he has crossed the line, and the forwards who precede him are thus taken out of the play entirely when the man with the puck is checked or forced to pass before he can enter the zone ahead. Only once during the game did one of the attackers beat the defence. Wasnie, returning after an unsuccessful sally on the Toronto net, picked up a loose puck and caught the Leafs with only Day and Chabot in front of him. He pushed the puck through Day’s feet, and slipped around to retrieve it. As he bore in on Chabot, Harold Cotton overtook him and took the puck away from him.

The Leafs outskated their opponents at times, and had more scoring chances, but Hainsworth was always in the way. In the last two minutes of the game, some real excitement was provided when the Leafs made their last desperate attempt to tie the score while the Canadiens were two men short. Hainsworth was fortunate in keeping the puck out of the net on a couple of occasions, but his playing deserved that kind of “break.” In their anxiety, the Leafs were tumbling over each other, while the fans stood shouting encouragement. It was exciting, but it was not hockey.

Twenty four penalties were imposed by the officials. They were shared equally by the teams. “Red” Horner was benched five times, which shows that “Red” is getting something of a reputation as a “bad man.” The game was not rough, but there were odd moments when tempers flared and sticks were carried high. Both teams handed out some jolting bodychecks, and the fact that Horner stopped many of the Canadiens in this manner earned him some unfavourable attention from the officials.

The Canadiens were without the services of the temperamental Aurèle Joliat, who is nursing a slightly dislocated shoulder from Thursday’s game against the Maroons. The injury is not a serious one, but manager Cecil Hart decided to keep his leading scorer out of the game, rather than take chances of aggravating the injury.

Morenz, Wasnie, Sylvio Mantha, Lépine and Burke were the pick of the visitors other than Hainsworth. Morenz showed his speed in flashes but failed to get a goal, so closely was he checked. The Toronto defence rarely let him get through on his frantic charges. Wasnie was always a threat, but he did not take kindly to body checks. Pit Lépine was really the choice of the visiting forwards. He gave a better display than he has ever shown before.

Mantha was always good, and the only goal of the game was scored largely through his effort. He carried the puck down and got a hard drive on Chabot. The netminder deflected it into the corner where Lépine got it. Mantha was parked in front of the Toronto net with Day watching him closely. Lépine was being checked by one of the Toronto wingmen, but he shot a fast pass to Mantha. The puck hit Day’s skate and was deflected into the net. Just previous to that, Wasnie looked to have Chabot beaten from close in, but the local goalkeeper made a brilliant save. Chabot did not have near the work that Hainsworth was given, but he saved sensationally on all occasions, and it was unfortunate that he had no chance on the only goal of the game.

For the Leafs, Cotton, Primeau and Blair were outstanding, with Day and Horner the pick of the defence. Harvey Jackson made his debut, but did not get a great deal of opportunity. He has not yet become familiar with the professional style of play, but should make good. He looked as big and fast as anybody on the ice, and when he gets his bearings he will be a useful performer. Charlie Conacher and “Ace” Bailey also played well, but each of them lost several good opportunities to score, Hainsworth robbing them repeatedly when they looked to have him beat.

The game was draggy at times, and only speeded up when one team had the advantage of numbers. There was no sustained speed, and nothing particularly brilliant outside of the goalkeeping.

Story originally published in The Globe, December 9, 1929

1st Period
MTL PENS – Leduc (2), S. Mantha, Wasnie
TOR PENS – Bailey, Conacher, Horner, Jackson

2nd Period
MTL GOAL – 02:50 – Lépine (S. Mantha)

MTL PENS – Lépine, S. Mantha, Morenz, Wasnie
TOR PENS – Horner (2), Conacher, Primeau, Smith

3rd Period
MTL PENS – Morenz (2), Burke, Leduc
TOR PENS – Horner (2), Conacher

MTL – Hainsworth (W + SO)
TOR – Chabot (L)

MTLGoaltenders: George Hainsworth. Defence: Marty Burke, Gerry Carson, Gord Fraser, Albert Leduc, Georges Mantha, Sylvio Mantha (C). Forwards: Aurèle Joliat, Wildor Larochelle, Pit Lépine, Armand Mondou, Howie Morenz, Nick Wasnie.
TORGoaltenders: Lorne Chabot. Defence: Hap Day (C), Red Horner, Art Smith. Forwards: Ace Bailey, Andy Blair, Charlie Conacher, Baldy Cotton, Busher Jackson, Eric Pettinger, Joe Primeau.

MTL – 5-3-2 (.600)
TOR – 3-6-1 (.350)