Playoff Game 09 – Canadiens 11, Maple Leafs 0

Playoff Game 09
Canadiens 11, Maple Leafs 0
Stanley Cup Semifinals, Game 5
Thursday, March 30, 1944
Forum de Montréal, Montréal, Québec

Dick Irvin and his Montréal Canadiens finally got to freewheeling in the 1943-44 Stanley Cup playoff competition. They rolled their way into the final round of the National Hockey League’s trophy classic tonight by swamping the Toronto Maple Leafs 11-0 before a roaring crowd at the Montréal Forum.

The Canadiens outclassed their younger, lighter and less experienced foemen from the start. It was 2-0 at the end of the first period, 4-0 at the end of the second. By that time, an already exhausted Toronto club was all in but the boot straps. In the third period, the Habitants raced through and around the tottering Toronto boys for seven more goals.

Defensively and offensively, the Canadiens were riding hard on the Leafs. The Montréalers packed much more speed than the Leafs, who looked like a tired, well beaten team by the time the second period ended.

The crowd was announced at 13,215, greatest in the history of the Forum.

There wasn’t any doubt about the outcome after the Canadiens rammed home two goals in the first period.

Probably the saddest picture in a hometown setting was that of Paul Bibeault in the Toronto nets. The writer has been watching Stanley Cup playoff competition for 15 years now, but never before such a display of goaltending in a losing cause as that of this Montréaler the Canadiens owned.

The Leafs simply didn’t have enough to match the avalanche of hockey power that the Canadiens poured over them. Bibeault kicked out 19 shots in the first period. Durnan had a first period picnic. Desperate Toronto attacks gave him trouble in the second, but in the third the Leafs were left far behind.

When you stop to think of it, it’s amazing that the Montréal typhoon hadn’t hit earlier. The Leafs had beaten them only twice this winter, and this was a Montréal club that outclassed the rest of the circuit.

It was a hard, clean, fighting finish for the Leafs and for the Canadiens. A fight between Don Webster and Heffernan in the late seconds of the third period was incidental.

The Canadiens were bent on wreaking any vengeance they wanted against the Toronto club in the way of goals. And they really sang a song and dance.

The Leafs didn’t let Toronto fans down a particle. They were simply outclassed by a club that they knew all the time was ripe to burst wide open. Everybody secretly felt it was only a question of time before the Canadiens broke loose, but everybody was imbued with the “Keep Punching Spirit.”

Coach Hap Day made a late decision to return young Ross Johnstone to the Toronto line as replacement for Tommy O’Neill. It meant switching Jackie Hamilton back to centre, moving McLean to right wing and spotting Johnstone at left wing, as in the opening game of the series here, when the Leafs scored their lone victory. Day felt young O’Neill had played himself out in the first four games.

Although the Canadiens dominated play from the first faceoff, it wasn’t until 16:02 that the Montréalers finally broke down the stubborn resistance of Paul Bibeault. Maurice Richard started the play from his own zone. He passed to Watson, who carried to the Toronto blue line. Watson tossed the puck to Getliffe on the left wing, and Ray took it in to score. It was one of the neatest scoring plays of the series.

The second goal came at 17:39. Phil Watson got it off a pass from Glen Harmon. Each club had two players in the penalty box at the time: Pratt and Kennedy of the Leafs, Bouchard and Richard of the Canadiens.

Just after the game opened, a spectator grabbed Reg Hamilton’s stick as he crashed into the boards with Toe Blake. Bouchard rushed in with stick high and tried to charge Hamilton into the aisles. Referee King Clancy warned the spectator. As “The King” skated away the spectator took a flask from his pocket, drained it and tossed the empty bottle on the floor.

Pratt and Richard became involved in a pushing bout late in the period. Bouchard stuck his nose into the fray, again with stick high, and pushed Pratt to his knees. All three were penalized. Kennedy followed seconds later for interference.

Bibeault’s goaltending was a sight to behold, as his mates failed to hold off the furious skating Canadiens, easily at their peak in this series. Evidence of the manner in which Montréal dominated play is given in the shots on goal count. Bibeault made 19 saves. Bill Durnan sat in an easy chair, brushed out four shots.

The Canadiens ran their count up two more goals in a much slower second period, although they continued to dominate play.

Maurice Richard got a lucky goal 27 seconds after the period opened, although he lugged the puck from his own end of the rink in his longest puck carrying stunt against the Leafs in the first games. His quick backhander on Bibeault was deflected into the Toronto nets by Reggie Hamilton.

The Canadiens had two penalties in the period, but Hap Day elected to stick to two defencemen and three forwards in a bid for the first Toronto score. The system backfired. Murphy Chamberlain scored on a pass from Getliffe at 10:33 while Phil Watson was in the cooler.

The best scoring chance for the Leafs was executed by George Boothman late in the period. He left Mike McMahon flat footed with a quick stickhandling shift, but Durnan handled his shot neatly.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, March 31, 1944

1st Period
TOR PEN – 07:06 – R. Hamilton
MTL PEN – 09:45 – McMahon
TOR PEN – 13:17 – Davidson
MTL GOAL – 16:02 – Getliffe (Watson, Richard)
MTL PEN – 17:09 – Bouchard
TOR PEN – 17:09 – Pratt
MTL PEN – 17:09 – Richard
TOR PEN – 17:25 – Kennedy
MTL GOAL – 17:39 – Watson (Harmon)

2nd Period
MTL GOAL – 00:27 – Richard
MTL PEN – 09:11 – Watson
MTL SH GOAL – 10:33 – Chamberlain (Getliffe)
MTL PEN – 11:10 – Chamberlain

3rd Period
MTL GOAL – 02:27 – Bouchard (Richard, Lach)
MTL GOAL – 07:58 – Blake (Heffernan, O’Connor)
MTL GOAL – 08:37 – Blake (Richard, Lach)
MTL GOAL – 09:17 – Richard (Blake, Lach)
MTL GOAL – 10:33 – Getliffe (Chamberlain, Lamoureux)
MTL GOAL – 11:34 – O’Connor (Getliffe)
TOR PEN – 14:22 – Webster
MTL PP GOAL – 15:41 – Chamberlain (Getliffe, Watson)
MTL PEN – 19:46 – Heffernan
TOR PEN – 19:46 – Webster
MTL PEN – 19:46 – Watson

MTL – Durnan (W + SO)
TOR – Bibeault (L)

MTLGoaltenders: Bill Durnan. Defence: Butch Bouchard, Glen Harmon, Mike McMahon. Forwards: Toe Blake (C), Murph Chamberlain, Ray Getliffe, Gerry Heffernan, Elmer Lach, Leo Lamoureux, Buddy O’Connor, Maurice Richard, Phil Watson.
TORGoaltenders: Paul Bibeault. Defence: Reg Hamilton, Ross Johnstone, Moe Morris, Babe Pratt. Forwards: Gus Bodnar, George Boothman, Lorne Carr, Bob Davidson (C), Jackie Hamilton, Ted Kennedy, Jack McLean, Don Webster.