Game 317 – Maple Leafs 4, Canadiens 1

Game 317
Maple Leafs 4, Canadiens 1
Wednesday, November 11, 1953
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

Backed up by some glittering guards who were two-way terrors, the Maple Leafs mauled the world champion Montréal Canadiens 4-1 last night – and were as superior as that.

“The Big Chief” George Armstrong ran amok for two goals and set up another for linemate Harry Watson as that ace unit, with Tod Sloan its pivot, set the puck-sinking pace for the Leafs’ sixth successive game without loss. Sid Smith was the other Habitant-beater.

The largest gathering of the NHL season in Maple Leaf Gardens – 14,120 – watched the Leafs play more brilliantly as a team than in a long, long time. There wasn’t a weak link out there, and coach King Clancy’s prophesy a few days ago that his defencemen would rush more and score more received strong support on the ice.

Goalie Harry Lumley, the last defender, was terrific too, and it was ironical that, on his 27th birthday, he missed his initial shutout of the NHL season by a mere 125 seconds. The irony was abetted by the fact that the gent who beat him on a close-in shot was defenceman Dollard Saint-Laurent, who was used sparingly and only in the last period.

Featuring speed, passing plays, hard checking and close-in thrills by both sides, the victory jumped the Leafs alone into second place, only two points back of the Flying Frenchmen. It followed three victories and two ties in their last five games, and proved conclusively to freshman coach Clancy that his team can whip the top runners as well as the so-called weak sisters.

A large sized cog in the smooth working Leaf machine was Jim Morrison, who until three games ago, had been the fifth – and last – wheel in the defensive system. Until last Saturday he had seen exactly 30 seconds of service.

Replacing Leo Boivin, Morrison stopped Habitant rushes with the authority of a steamroller, played like an all star veteran instead of a kid, and one of his clearing rushes, the length of the ice, led to the third Toronto goal.

Jim Thomson and Tim Horton too were spectacularly sound from their blueline berths. Thomson, who never has been a goal scorer, lolled like a trojan on defence and, with any luck, might have had two goals on splendid rushes. He hasn’t had one since March of ’51 and that was on an empty net.

On one of those sorties midway through the first period, he barged his way through the Hab defence after a dash down the ice, and was hooked by big Doug Harvey. There was no one between him and the goal except goalie Gerry McNeil at the time, and the rules call for a penalty shot. But the Habs escaped with a minor penalty to Harvey.

There wasn’t an outstanding Hab, although “Boom Boom” Geoffrion probably had the most shots among the 25 on Lumley – four less than on McNeil. “Rocket” Richard was far below his usual brilliant form on the strength of some fine shadowing – plus some excellent crashing by Morrison.

Harvey was off for hooking Thomson when Armstrong made the opening goal possible by shifting around Elmer Lach at the blueline and passing to a flying Watson. Harry cut around Richard and blasted a 20-footer from the wing.

Sloan, who had started off the night with a 10-minute misconduct penalty and an automatic $25 fine for something said to referee Jack Mehlenbacher, picked up a loose puck in the Hab end to set up the second goal. In the 13th minute of the second period, Sloan’s rebound off McNeil was flipped into the cage by Armstrong.

Twenty minutes later, Armstrong made it 3-0 on a 12-foot blast after Morrison carried all the way up the ice. A minute later, with rookie Lorne Davis of the Habs sitting out a minor, Smith counted on a screened backhander.

NOTES: It was the Canadiens’ initial appearance here, and evened the seasonal series at 1-1. The Habs beat the Leafs two weeks ago in Montréal, 3-1…The wife of Dr. Hugh Smythe suffered a six stitch head cut when hit on the head by a flying puck. Dr. Hugh is the son of Conn Smythe, the Leafs’ managing director…Horton made probably the most spectacular rush. He swerved through the entire Hab team, only to have McNeil make a great save on his close-in drive early in the third period.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, November 12, 1953

1st Period
TOR PEN – 00:56 – Sloan, tripping
MTL PEN – 03:12 – Bouchard, interference
TOR PEN – 05:14 – Sloan, hooking + misconduct
MTL PEN – 10:51 – Harvey, hooking
TOR PP GOAL – 11:32 – Watson (Armstrong)

2nd Period
TOR GOAL – 12:18 – Armstrong (Sloan, Smith)

3rd Period
TOR PEN – 01:39 – Horton, interference
MTL PEN – 06:07 – MacKay, kneeing
TOR GOAL – 12:53 – Armstrong (Morrison, Watson)
MTL PEN – 13:18 – Davis, tripping
TOR PP GOAL – 13:31 – Smith (Kennedy, Stewart)
MTL GOAL – 16:55 – Saint-Laurent (Masnick, Geoffrion)

TOR – Lumley (W, 24-25)
MTL – McNeil (L, 25-29)

TOR – 10+9+10 = 29
MTL – 12+8+5 = 25

TORGoaltenders: Harry Lumley. Defence: Fern Flaman, Tim Horton, Jim Morrison, Jimmy Thomson. Forwards: George Armstrong, Gord Hannigan, Bob Hassard, Ted Kennedy (C), Rudy Migay, Eric Nesterenko, Tod Sloan, Sid Smith, Ron Stewart, Harry Watson.
MTLGoaltenders: Gerry McNeil. Defence: Butch Bouchard (C), Doug Harvey, Tom Johnson, Bud MacPherson, Eddie Mazur, Dollard Saint-Laurent. Forwards: Floyd Curry, Lorne Davis, Bernie Geoffrion, Elmer Lach, Calum MacKay, Paul Masnick, Paul Meger, Kenny Mosdell, Bert Olmstead, Maurice Richard.

TOR – 7-4-4 (.600)
MTL – 10-6-0 (.625)