Game 301 – Canadiens 3, Maple Leafs 0

Game 301
Canadiens 3, Maple Leafs 0
Wednesday, March 19, 1952
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

Stanley Cup hockey was flowing off the Montréal bench at Maple Leaf Gardens last night, and it showed clearly in a glittering 3-0 decision the Habitants posted over the Maple Leafs.

This was the game generally conceded to be the one to decide second place in the final standing, and the Canadiens sont la! There never was much doubt about it. The Montréalers got there first with the most, and then made sure the Leafs never did get there.

First period goals by Bernie Geoffrion (his 30th) and Butch Bouchard, and “Rocket” Richard’s first payoff on a Florida vacation in the second, were more than ample in front of a tremendous four man defence to dump the Leafs into defeat.

The Canadiens jubilantly escorted goalie Gerry McNeil off the ice after the game, clutching his fifth shutout of the season, but to level off the honours, young Gerry should have hoisted Bouchard, Dollard Saint-Laurent, Doug Harvey and Bud MacPherson on his shoulders.

That would have been a physical impossibility, of course, but between them, this staunch foursome restricted the Leafs to 13 shots on the handsome young goalkeeper, and very few of these could be classed as dangerous.

The Leafs were the picture of utter frustration as the Habs outskated them, outmanoeuvred them, outscored them and checked them to a disorganized standstill. So effective was the Montréal checking barrage that a solid round of boos from the gathering of 14,581 blistered Leafian heads, because they couldn’t slip off the handcuffs.

Montréal’s winning strategy was fairly obvious. Johnny McCormack was sent out to shackle “Teeder” Kennedy, and he did a good job while his linemates, Bert Olmstead and Floyd Curry tagged Tod Sloan and Sid Smith just as effectively. Max Bentley was a one-man target for the Habs, who ganged up on him to nullify a second line.

That left it stritctly up to the Gardner trio, and although they buzzed around dangerously at times, they couldn’t produce what was needed.

All three Canadiens goals were things of beauty, and Al Rollins didn’t have a chance. Geoffrion and Richard came dashing up to the goalmouth just in time to deflect well aimed passes from Billy Reay and Elmer Lach respectively. Bouchard used two forwards as decoys when he caught the Leafs with only Jim Morrison back, and he rode in to needle a shot past Rollins on the short side.

“The Rocket”‘s goal was typical of the entire game. On a two man break in the second period, Lach was covered by Jimmy Thomson. He still got over a perfect pass to Richard, who appeared to be blanketed by Jim Morrison. And “The Rocket” somehow got his stick around and zipped the puck into the net.

Dickie Moore, who was shifted to right wing for Lach and Richard, had the game’s best scoring chance when he zoomed into the clear on a pass from Richard, and then lost a feinting duel to Rollins.

Richard wasn’t at his rocketing best, but he still deserves the courtesy of a strong checking winger. Earl Balfour drew that job on the opening faceoff, and the junior responded with a capable effort.

Max Bentley took quite a beating this outing, but he was the best the Leafs could show. Three of the six Montréal penalties were caused by Hab defencemen tripping or hooking him to make sure his scoring position was diluted. Maxie kept getting up off the deck and boring in, but he didn’t have much support from the sides.

The Canadiens were “up” for this game physically and mentally. They were laying about them vigorously at all times, and the Leafs never caught up on the body exchanges until deep in the third period, when some lusty weight throwing encouraged the audience to voice.

McCormack turned in an effective destroying game. He harassed Kennedy in particular, and killed penalties. In the third period, the Canadiens drew the only three penalties, yet the Leafs had only five shots on goal during the entire 20 minutes.

NOTES: Rookie Saint-Laurent, who appeared to lack the “killer” instinct earlier, has acquired that valuable commodity since, and is doubly effective…Bouchard, who is the inspirational leader for the Irvins, was the game’s standout performer…It seemed the Habitants did everything smoothly and in perfect cohesion, while the Leafs had to stop and think about their moves, generally getting the answer when it was too late…Juzda and Richard resumed their early season feuding, but “The Rocket” kept his head and played hockey.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, March 20, 1952

1st Period
TOR PEN – 00:59 – Thomson, tripping
MTL PEN – 01:28 – Richard, interference
TOR PEN – 02:58 – Gardner, high sticking
MTL GOAL – 06:22 – Geoffrion (Reay, Bouchard)
MTL PEN – 10:57 – Bouchard, hooking
MTL GOAL – 13:58 – Bouchard
MTL PEN – 15:25 – Bouchard, holding

2nd Period
TOR PEN – 04:53 – Juzda, interference
MTL GOAL – 11:17 – Richard (Lach)

3rd Period
MTL PEN – 01:10 – Saint-Laurent, spearing
MTL PEN – 05:45 – Moore, tripping
MTL PEN – 15:21 – Saint-Laurent, tripping

MTL – McNeil (W + SO, 13-13)
TOR – Rollins (L, 15-18)

MTL – 5+7+6 = 18
TOR – 5+3+5 = 13

MTLGoaltenders: Gerry McNeil. Defence: Butch Bouchard (C), Doug Harvey, Bud MacPherson, Dollard Saint-Laurent. Forwards: Floyd Curry, Bernie Geoffrion, Elmer Lach, John McCormack, Paul Meger, Dickie Moore, Bert Olmstead, Billy Reay, Maurice Richard.
TORGoaltenders: Al Rollins. Defence: Hugh Bolton, Fern Flaman, Bill Juzda, Jim Morrison, Jimmy Thomson. Forwards: George Armstrong, Earl Balfour, Max Bentley, Cal Gardner, Ted Kennedy (C), Howie Meeker, Tod Sloan, Sid Smith, Ray Timgren, Harry Watson.

MTL – 34-25-9 (.566)
TOR – 29-23-16 (.544)