Game 116 – Canadiens 1, Maple Leafs 0

Game 116
Canadiens 1, Maple Leafs 0
Saturday, November 25, 1933
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

They call them the Flying Frenchmen, but they don’t live up to that title any more. By comparison with the Maple Leafs on Saturday night they were painfully slow, but speed isn’t much use if it doesn’t bring goals, and in spite of the fact that the Leafs outskated them, outshot them and outplayed them by a considerable margin, the Canadiens won the game 1 to 0.

It was the Leafs’ first defeat of the season and 13,348 cash customers, the largest crowd to date, witnessed the discomfiture of the locals as they tried vainly to put the puck past their popular ex-teammate, Lorne Chabot, whose presence between the goal posts appears to have cast some magic spell over a team that looks no stronger than it did a year ago, yet is making a much more impressive showing.

The Leafs outshot the Canadiens by 48 to 20, showing clearly who dominated the play. And, too, the Leafs were guilty of a lot of wild shooting, drives that miss the net and are not counted by the official tabulator of the shots. It is no exaggeration to say that the locals had four chances to score to the Canadiens’ one, and that they could not get a goal only testifies to the excellence of old Sergt. Chabot’s goalkeeping, and the kitty-bar-the-door tactics employed by his teammates after they had obtained their lone tally early in the first period.

It was only natural to expect that Chabot would turn in a great performance against his old buddies. He was a great goalkeeper before he ever joined the Canadiens, and if the Toronto club officials were not aware of that fact before they are going to be convinced of it long before this season is over. The Leafs made his task somewhat easier on Saturday night by over-anxiety and poor passing in the Canadiens’ defence zone, but, just the same, he made a number of remarkable stops, and he was the hardest worked man on either team. George Hainsworth had very little to do by comparison.

Chabot was the central figure of the game. Fully four-fifths of the play raged around him. The Leafs wildly bombarded him continually. They were so determined to score on him that they threw caution away, forgot about attacking systems and organized effort, and became so subservient to the one desire to blast the puck past him that their defeat can be attributed to that fact alone. In their frantic, disorganized, ganging attacks on the visitors’ net they left themselves open for many dangerous counter thrusts on the part of the visitors, and it was on one of those openings the Canadiens cashed in and got the goal that won the game.

Léo Bourgault, another ex-Leaf of some seasons ago, registered the only tally of the game. It came little more than seven minutes after the opening faceoff. Rushing furiously to the attack from the start, the Leafs used a four and five man assault to keep play bottled up at the Canadiens’ end of the rink.

Breaking away from one of these concentrated sallies, Bourgault carried the puck over his team’s blue line, passed to Lépine, and then followed the rangy centre star into the Leafs’ territory, where there was only one defenceman to protect Hainsworth in the Toronto net. Lépine stickhandled his way over the Toronto blue line and then drove a hard shot at Hainsworth, which the goalkeeper stopped. The puck rebounded toward the side where Bourgault was skating in fast, and the little defence player merely had to push it back quickly to land it into the cage before Hainsworth could set himself to block it.

And the Leafs could not get that goal back. They were fortunate, perhaps, that they were not scored on again. Hainsworth made many spectacular saves, and on a later occasion robbed Bourgault of what looked like a sure goal when the latter, all alone in front of the Toronto net, got a pass from Gagnon and tried to stickhandle his way past the goalkeeper. Hainsworth outguessed him and forced Bourgault into such a position that his shot went wide of the cage.

On several other occasions the Leafs, caught behind the play, had to turn and speed back to overtake the puck carrier, who had only the goalkeeper to beat at the Toronto end.

When it comes to speed, the Leafs can give the Canadiens lessons any time. However, they might have realized that they had to outfox an old campaigner like Chabot. They maintained a pressure on him that threatened on several occasions to cause the collapse of his teammates, but just when the breaking point appeared to have been reached, Chabot, who is always at his best when the pressure is greatest, rose to the occasion with sensational blocking and encouraging words to his confreres and when necessity demanded, he played his old trick of calling for time out to fix his pads that needed no fixing, just so his harried defencemen could get a breather. The fans enjoyed that. How many times in the past they have commended him for just such tactics when he was in the Toronto net and the sorely beset Leafs needed a breathing spell.

If anything, Chabot added to his popularity here by his performance. The fans applauded him frequently. He got a big hand when he came on the ice first before the game started. Before the puck was faced off, the two teams lined up in centre ice whle Harold Cotton, on behalf of the Owls Club, a local organization, presented his old teammate with a travelling bag. George Hainsworth was also given a set of men’s toilet articles encased in leather. Harvey Jackson added some amusement to the occasion by placing a live owl on the crossbar of the Canadiens’ net. The owl was removed after a minute or two, and if it was intended to put a hoodoo on Chabot by this means, it failed of its purpose.

Howie Morenz, who nearly missed the train at Montréal when the Canadiens departed for Toronto, was not as conspicuous as of yore. He didn’t flash his old-time brilliance, but he was a strong factor in backchecking. The Canadiens had few chances to dominate any of the situations. Even when the Leafs were shorthanded, they kept up a stiff offensive. Cotton and Godin added some spice to the pastime when they traded punches in the third period and drew major penalties. Otherwise, very few penalties were meted out. The game was a clean affair, with the officials doing a great amount of whistle tooting because of offsides.

The Leafs committed many such breaches of the rules by their anxiety to rush over the blue lines into the Canadiens’ end. They spoiled many promising thrusts in this way, all of which helped the visitors and their defensive style of play.

The Canadiens showed no outstanding stars other than Chabot, Marty Burke, Sylvio Mantha and Bourgault were the pick of the defencemen. Lépine, Larochelle and G. Mantha formed the strongest attacking line the visitors had.

For the Leafs, every man played as though his life depended on the result, but there was too much individual play, and not enough teamwork. They travelled at top speed all the way, but there was a notable lack of clever passing plays and little cohesion around the net.

It was Chabot’s third successive shutout, and he deserved it. The fans appeared to enjoy the game. It was fairly exciting.

Story originally published in The Globe, November 27, 1933

1st Period
MTL PEN – 01:00 – Carson
TOR PEN – 02:00 – Boll
TOR PEN – 03:00 – Conacher
MTL GOAL – 07:21 – Bourgault

2nd Period
MTL PEN – 01:00 – S. Mantha

3rd Period
MTL PEN – 01:00 – Godin, major
TOR PEN – 01:00 – Cotton, major
MTL PEN – 02:00 – Morenz
TOR PEN – 03:00 – Levinsky

MTL – Chabot (W + SO, 48-48)
TOR – Hainsworth (L, 19-20)

MTL – 7+4+9 = 20
TOR – 15+16+17 = 48

MTLGoaltenders: Lorne Chabot. Defence: Léo Bourgault, Marty Burke, Gerry Carson, Georges Mantha, Sylvio Mantha (C). Forwards: Johnny Gagnon, Sam Godin, Aurèle Joliat, Wildor Larochelle, Pit Lépine, Armand Mondou, Howie Morenz, Paul Raymond, Jack Riley.
TORGoaltenders: George Hainsworth. Defence: King Clancy, Hap Day (C), Red Horner, Alex Levinsky. Forwards: Ace Bailey, Andy Blair, Buzz Boll, Charlie Conacher, Baldy Cotton, Busher Jackson, Hec Kilrea, Joe Primeau, Charlie Sands, Bill Thoms.

MTL – 5-2-0 (.714)
TOR – 3-1-1 (.700)