Preseason Game 09 – Canadiens 5, Maple Leafs 4

Preseason Game 09
Canadiens 5, Maple Leafs 4
Wednesday, October 4, 1972
Forum de Montréal, Montréal, QC

Exhibition hockey games rarely show anything to management of which they are not already aware and last night’s encounter between the Montréal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs at the Forum was no different.

The Canadiens won the game 5-4 with two goals in the final nine minutes, the winner coming with 86 seconds to play.

The Leafs carried a 4-3 lead into the final period. It was Toronto’s seventh loss in nine preseason games, and even with the addition of forwards Paul Henderson and Ron Ellis and defenceman Bob Baun for Saturday’s National Hockey League opener against Chicago at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, the Leafs will still be life and death to beat Detroit for the final playoff position in the Eastern Division.

Henderson, Ellis and Baun did not accompany the team to Montréal. Henderson and Ellis are recovering from minor injuries suffered in Moscow with Team Canada. Baun’s father was buried Tuesday and the defenceman may not play Saturday either. Henderson and Ellis are definite skaters.

The Leafs are a team that has, at best, six major league forwards and a defence which, also at best, could be rated as average.

The goaltending will depend on whether Leaf general manager Jim Gregory can locate a competent backup man for 43 year old Jacques Plante, who was one of the Leafs’ better performers last night, revealing some saves he normally reserves for midseason play.

The Canadiens, who were without Frank Mahovlich, Jacques Laperrière and Henri Richard last night, should challenge Boston and New York for first place in the East.

While the Leafs have a distinct problem in putting 19 players of major league calibre on the ice and will be in serious trouble if struck by more than one or two injuries at key positions, the Canadiens are five and six men deep at each position.

In fact, the Canadiens will shortly need to farm out six or seven players to their Nova Scotia Voyageurs farm team in the American Hockey League. These players could easily step into Leaf uniforms.

The Canadiens have lost defencemen J.C. Tremblay, Brad Selwood and Terry Harper and goaltenders Phil Myre and Denis DeJordy to the World Hockey Association or other NHL teams (Rights to Selwood were acquired from the Leafs for those to forward Larry Pleau after both jumped to the WHA). But the replacements general manager Sam Pollock and coach Scotty Bowwman have in the wings are unusually big and talented.

“In fellows like Chuck Lefley, Murray Wilson, Chuck Arnasson and Larry Robinson we feel that we’ve strengthened our overall defensive play,” said Bowman before last night’s game.

The only bright spots in the Leaf picture, besides the brilliant play of Plante in keeping the Leafs close, were defenceman Brian Glennie, making his first appearance since returning from Europe, centre Dave Keon and winger Pierre Jarry.

Keon was hustling all night and it paid off in two goals. The other Leaf marksmen were rookie Randy Osburn and utility man Denis Dupéré.

While he didn’t score, Jarry made one fine play after another, was digging and skating as if it meant making the team, and even took on 6 foot 2 inch Robinson after the Hab defenceman high sticked him, cutting him in the forehead for four stitches.

Earlier in the period, defencemen Mike Pelyk and Marc Tardif clashed, with Tardif landing several blows on Pelyk’s back and shoulders.

The two fights failed to liven up a match that was watched mainly in silence by the 6,011 fans. Montréal fans here are not required to buy preseason games on their season ticket plan, as are Maple Leaf Garden subscribers.

If there was any doubt among Leaf supporters that Plante was too old to play even on a part time basis, the old guy certainly disproved it with his best effort in the exhibition schedule.

The Canadiens won the game on Lemaire’s goal at 18:34 as the Habs wheeled the puck around the Leaf zone until they had a clear shot at Plante. They tied it at 4-4 at the 11 minute mark on Guy Lafleur’s goal. Earlier goals went to Pete Mahovlich, Savard and Yvan Cournoyer.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, October 5, 1972