Monday, August 30, 2010

And We All Pulled The Trigger USSR 5 Canada 3

Game Four. Vancouver.

Colin, aka Mr Debakey, another 'original' Oilogosphere man, did the work for games four and five and you are going to love it. Serious details including a breakdown of the Russians. He also sent along his notes on the game and that is what we are going to start with. Great stuff and thank you Colin. Thank you very much.

After successful outings in Toronto and Winnipeg, The Team Canada Express hit the ditch in the middle two matches of the Super Series.

Black Dog has already touched on some of the problems with the Canadian roster of 37 [count 'em!] out-of shape guys.

Mikita, Glennie, Tallon and Eddie Johnston were all late additions. The CAHA bowed to NHL pressure and replaced four contract breakers; Bobby Hull, Gerry Cheevers, JC Tremblay and Derek Sanderson. Guy Lapointe was also drafted in to replace Jacques Laperriere who stepped aside due to a new baby.

For Harry Sinden, the Canadian leg of the series became a series of exhibition games, searching for 19 guys who could do it.

I think the original plan saw three lines:

Mahovlich Esposito - Cournoyer
Hadfield Ratelle Gilbert
Ellis Clarke Henderson

With the rest filling as needed.

After the debacle in Montreal, Team Canada swung into Plan B for Games 2 and 3.

Clarke's line was left intact. The other two lines were built around wingers for Esposito and a center for Cournoyer/Mahovlich. This reflected the inability of the Rangers line to get untracked. With Bobby Hull banished and Hadfield stalled, Sinden couldn't count on either of the NHLs 50-goal men.

Even though Plan B had worked, someone decided to implement Option 3, Operation MacBlender, in Vancouver.

Clarke's line continued as a force.

The other 8 forwards consisted of two Centers Esposito and Perrault lined up with three sets of wingers:

- The Rangers pair of Hadfield and Gilbert.
- The Canadiens pair of Cournoyer and Mahovlich.
- The third pair had new boy Dennis Hull on Left Wing while Bill Goldsworthy returned on the Right.

Additional changes saw the return of Dryden in goal, so to did the defense pair of Seiling and Awrey.

Park, Bergman, White & Stapleton made up the rest of the D.

Option 3 failed.

Actually, Bill Goldsworthy strangled it at birth. Goldsworthy took stupid intimidation penalties on each of his first two shifts. The ensuing powerplays saw shooter Lutchenko and tipper Mikhailov team up to convert two long shots into goals. The game Ken Dryden didn't have a chance on either.

Bobrov had last change in Game 4. He didn't seem to worry about match-ups as long as Kharmolov was kept away from Ron Ellis [my favourite player in those pre-WHA days].

So, seven minutes in and its 2-0 USSR. Canada's pressing and Option 3 sees the forward lines constantly evolving. Its a scrappy game. It feels like were going shift after shift without any real scoring chances. Id get all the players noted, they'd bang the puck around for 90 seconds. Change. Id note all the players. They'd bang the puck around. Change. Note. Bang the puck around. Change. Note. Bang. Change.

Funny thing is, I recorded about the same number of events for both Games 4 & 5. It sure didnt feel like it.

I recently found a copy of the September 1971 issue of Hockey World magazine in my moms basement [ed. Insert blogger joke here]. The cover reads:

Ken Drydens Dilemma: What to do for an Encore

Well, one year later he has one helluva dilemma on his hands.

Burned badly in Game 1.

Now, in Game 4, he's scorched early by the trio of Mikhailov, Lutchenko and Goldsworthy.

Dryden is a basket case; a simple shot leaks through his pads and dribbles past the post. Don Awrey saves a similar shot from staggering across the line.

It started on another ineffectual Canadian power-play. The puck is passed back to Dryden. He stops it. The fans cheer. The restless Vancouverians jeer and catcall as the Soviets build their lead. After the game, Phil Esposito make his famous Disappointed speech.

His target, the grandparents of the Matt Cooke Fan Club, spit and scratch themselves.

Team Canada scored 5 minutes into the 2nd period on an end-to-ender by Gilbert Perrault. Canadas kid burned the Soviet's Kid Line Anisin, Bodunov & Lebedev. Bobrov shows no mercy and immediately pulls the Kids plug. Shadrin & Yakuchev take their spot in the three-line rotation with Anisin staying on the wing.

The Rangers pair of Hadfield and Gilbert played their last shift midway through the third. Neither were particularly bad, but not good either. Gilbert did have a goal disallowed [fairly] in the 2nd period. Hadfield didnt play again in the Series. He did play in Sweden, however, cutting the Swedish Captain open with a two-hander across the chops.

Dennis Hull scored a late goal for Canada. A nice goal. Other than that he spent his first game blasting shots at Tretiak from the blueline. He was also Minus-7 in Scoring Chances, the team leader.

So, I ask myself why Goldsworthy? I'm not criticizing, just wondering.
Why him and not Jean Pronovost, another right winger, but with better stats?
[Plus, Pronovosts smarter, right? Gotta be.] Now that I'm at it, where were Fred Stanfield and Jacques Lemaire two smart & skilled guys who scored more than a Point-per-Game. And did Vadnais turn them down, or was it no Seals allowed?
I'll try to find out.
(Colin emailed me afterwards to note that Vadnais was no longer a Seal so this reference was incorrect but perhaps they didn't even want former Seals? Sorry LT. ;) )

Home ice advantage ends. USSR 2 Wins, Canada 1 Win, 1 Tie.

In the vernacular of the day, Bummer, man.


Colin also sent along the pics above and originally I was going to post the Hawks' picture here as this was the first game that all three would play in the Series and then I was going to post the Sinden picture for game five. I decided to post Sinden here as well because this is the game that he has a serious impact on and its not in a positive manner.

Lapointe is injured in game three and Savard gets hurt in practice so they are replaced by Seiling and Awrey and while they were awful in game one I cannot really blame Sinden for this. The remaining D on the roster are Dale Tallon, Brian Glennie and Jocelyn Guevremont. Tallon and Guevremont were 21 years old. Glennie was, well, a poor man's Don Awrey from what I can tell. So the options are limited. Telling though is that when Stapleton is iffy for game eight it is Tallon who is tabbed to replace him. Sinden saw enough between G1 and G4 of Awrey and Seiling (Seiling would also get into G5 because Savard was still out) that neither were considered for the concluding game.

Up front and in goal is where problems arise with Sinden's choices imo. As mentioned at the end of the last post Mikita's conditioning was not there and Cashman's lack of discipline was an issue so I can understand their removal from the lineup. But the Canadians have been playing a winning hand from day one. Now they are weakened on the back end. You would think that Sinden would stay with as much of the lineup from games two and three as he possibly can. Put out Perreault as the fourth centre and spot Ratelle with him if you are still not sure about number eighteen (although Ratelle was good in game three). Bring back Gilbert to replace Cashman if you think he may, like Ratelle, be able to get going.

Instead Sinden makes a total of eight changes instead of the two absolutely necessary ones and the two that make some sense. Peter Mahovlich, their primary PK man, is gone. So is Ratelle. And so is Parise. In their spots come Hadfield, Dennis Hull and Goldsworthy, who played one ES shift (two shifts total) in G2.

And Esposito, excellent in both Toronto and Winnipeg, gets replaced by Dryden who was poor in game one.

The club is set up for failure. I don't understand the goaltending move. I can see why Hadfield and Gilbert get in. They were so good the season prior that perhaps Sinden figures they can get untracked. If they do then he can go back to Plan A.

But overall its a bit of a mess. When its all over with Hadfield and Awrey will not play again against the Russians. Goldsworthy somehow makes it into the lineup one more time. Unbelievable. Anyhow here are some of our totals. I have more data to post and hope to add it in here tomorrow (Tuesday). Colin has amassed some terrific stuff, my problem is I am too dumb to format it so I can plug it in here properly. So a lot more details to follow but for now here is a simple breakdown of what he came up with:

So here are the totals: Corsi ES 68-64, PP 6-3, SH 1-7, Total 75-74 Scoring Chances ES 27-26, PP 3-0, SH 0-2 Total 30-28

So first, Dryden. He looks terrible at times but he is not at fault on any of the goals. They are all five bell chances. The problem is that he really only stops a couple of those through the game. Not to say that Esposito would have stopped any of the five but Dryden fails, as he did in game one, to change the game for the positive. On the other hand Tretiak makes the stops, especially in the second when at a pivotal point in the game he makes save after save when the Canadians come on. So while Dryden cannot be faulted at the same time he is not making a difference. Would Esposito have done so?

On the blue things are pretty well according to Hoyle. Park and Bergman are not as good as they have been but their numbers are either in the black or even. They are on for the last goal of the game along with Esposito, Hull and Goldsworthy (this happens twice to this line), the Soviets gain control in the Canadian zone and the Canadians are running around and never touch the puck until they fish it out of their own net. Its not a great game for this pair but they don't get killed either.

White and Stapleton come into their own this game with one unfortunate exception. They are both in the black in Corsi and they kill in the scoring chances, both having a nice plus in a tough game for a few players. They have one tough moment. With the game two to one and the Clarke line having two great opportunities to tie it up they line up for a faceoff in the Russian zone. It comes to Henderson who pushes it back to the point weakly. The Russian winger busts past him and Stapleton does what he does. He gambles and pinches. He and the winger meet at the puck and the Russian pushes it to the centre who has come hard. Two on one. Three to one USSR. Stapleton lives by the sword and this time he dies by it. Its unfortunate timing.

The thing is the Canadians keep coming on after this goal. Cournoyer had two (!) breakaways on one shift and gets turned away each time and then on the power play Gilbert beats his man and takes a pass from Hadfield in the crease. The problem is that the pass hits his skates before he can get his stick down and while Tretiak is beaten it is ruled that Gilbert has directed the puck in. Perhaps its inadvertent but its not a bad call. Soon after Awrey and Seiling, who had been reasonable to this point, do Canada in. Awrey goes back to retrieve a shootin. He has all the time in the world and still somehow he hashes it, losing the puck. The Russians chip it to the corner where Seiling has three attempts at it. He fails and the puck ends up in the net once again. (This is the first goal that Esposito, Hull and Goldsworthy are on for, their coverage is abysmal.)

Awrey won't play again after tonight as Lapointe draws back in and Seiling will play one more game until Savard is healthy. They aren't as terrible as they were in game one but they cannot handle the Russians at all. Six Canadians end up in the red in scoring chances. All three of the Esposito line, Gilbert at a minus one and this pair. They also lose the Corsi battle. Its not a total disaster for them but its obvious that they cannot compare to Lapointe and Savard and Canada needs the latter two badly.

As for the forwards well its a mixed bag allround. Poor doomed Goldsworthy taps in a rebound after Esposito hits the crossbar but he takes two absolutely horrible penalties in his first shifts of the game and the rest of the game his teammates have to dig out of that hole. He actually jumps onto the ice for his first shift and immediately hacks the puck carrier, elbows him in the head and then elbows him in the head after the whistle. Later in the series the Canadian discipline is just awful but here is where, like Cashman in game three, it begins to rear its ugly head. After the first goal against Hadfield and Gilbert get a turn, then Mahovlich and Cournoyer and then the Clarke line. There is a nice push from the Canadians and then Goldworthy skates out and takes another penalty. Next thing you know they are two down. Sinden still sticks with him however and the end result is pretty awful. In the box for two goals against. On the ice for two more. He scores one and Hull scores another at the end of the game but these two and Esposito between them have a tough tough game. Hull adds some speed to the lineup and while he is not very good one can see why he may get another chance.

Hadfield is not a factor. He cannot keep up. This will be it for him. He has had two shots at it and nothing doing at all and so he falls on the depth chart below Parise and Hull. Gilbert also has little impact but he is in the mix physically and he can at least stay with the play and so when Sinden looks at his options at RW and sees him, Cashman and Goldsworthy he gets the edge.

The Clarke line has a pretty typical game for them. They bend but they don't break and their scoring chance numbers are tremendous. Ellis especially is very very good. At one to nothing they come on hard, at two to one they almost score twice and early in the third they cue another Canadian charge.

This is the story of the game. The Russians score and then the Canadians come on hard. They outplay the Russians, get their chances and then it gets derailed by a penalty or a bad pinch. It happens in the first when they are down one to nothing. After the Russians score their second goal the game goes into a lull. Then Perreault scores early in the second on a beautiful end to end rush and the Canadians are all over the Soviets until the bad Stapleton pinch. Down three to one they come back hard again only to be undone by the Awrey/Seiling gaffes. After that then the Russians pour it on to finish the second. But even in the third the Canadians come back. Ellis and Bergman have great chances, Goldsworthy scores, Mahovlich has two great attempts and Perreault is turned away in tight. A goal on any of these and its a one goal game again.

Its not a great game for the Canadians but the reality is that like every other game played in Canada they have the edge. Its closer than in any other game but once again they outchance the Soviets, albeit only by one at ES. And they outdo them in Corsi numbers as well.

The Canadians are booed off the ice and panic has set in. The results say that the Russians are the better team but the reality is that the Canadians have, even with their conditioning, their lack of preparedness, their lineup issues, been better in every game so far. They have been done in by better goaltending in game one and one could contend in this game as well but the ice has been tilted in their favour. We know how this all ends up of course but as we head to Russia it will be interesting to see what happens as the Canadian lineup comes into focus. I have watched game six and game eight and I can say that I was surprised by those contests, just as I was surprised by the first four.

Games five and six are almost ready to go up so stay tuned. Also considering the positive response that this has brought (thanks very much by the way) and the interesting conclusions we have come up with so far I just wanted to announce that I'm going to be carrying on with this little project. We're going to look at the 74 series between the Soviets and the WHA, the Canada Cups, the Olympics, basically any of the best on best tournaments that I can get footage for. Also hope to look at the Miracle on Ice and, if possible, some Oilers' playoff games from the eighties.

We'll see if we can find out a little more about some of those past great moments in both international and NHL hockey.
Finally here are Colin's charts:


spOILer said...

I'm disappointed the Loser post didn't get to headline your blog a little longer.


spOILer said...

Excellent narrative, btw, Mr. Debakey. Keep up the good work, guys and I'm looking forward to The Soviet leg.

Mr DeBakey said...

I see the apostrophe thief was in Toronto on the week-end..

Hey Gang, listen up!
Black Dog is offering to buy a pint for anyone who can identify which team Sinden is kitted up for in that photo.
The Barnacles maybe?

When Dennis Hull was scratched for G1, some journalists/pundits expressed surprise.
Sinden replied, “ I think its safe to say the Clarke Line is the surprise of our training camp. Not that we didn't expect Clarke, Ellis and Henderson to do well. Its just that we didn't expect the consistency they've played with”

Fun Fact – when Team Canada flew from Toronto to Montreal for the opening game they flew on two separate planes, “a procedure designed to protect the NHL in case of an air disaster.”

spOILer said...

Minneapolis Bruins would be my guess, but Al Gore makes this sort of thing a heckuva lot easier.

hunter1909 said...

The reason Sinden instinctively picked Drydenfor game 4 was due to his absolute dominance in 1971, when Dryden stoned Sinden's Bruins, the greatest pre-Oilers offensive juggernaut in NHL history. Something akin to Lowe going after Lupul/Penner, having seen them play against his team. Dryden also was considered the premiere goalie in the NHL at that time.

Dryden always either sucked or was average against the Soviets. Their strategy was to wait just that split second longer than the NHL players to shoot, and instead of blasting away hoping for fluke percentage goals and tip ins etc, they would score on an open net.

Dryden's style was based on the fact that he was a lot bigger than his peers and therefore simply covered more net; something the Soviets could negate with their superior patience in front of the goal.

Black Dog said...

Hunter yeah the ultimate saw him good. I'm sure that the final that season played into it as well. Dryden outplayed Esposito and in G7 Chicago was up 2-0 until Tony O let in a Lemaire slapshot from the neutral zone.

Still have to watch 5 and 7 but Esposito has been better so far. I agree with you though. Especially when it comes to G8 Sinden probably took 1971 into account.

Mr DeBakey said...

So, BD, I have those tables and blogger working together.
More or less.

I was working the ol' Presario pretty hard there.
It sounded like it was going to collapse.

Black Dog said...

Thanks Mr. D., will try your suggestions to get them on here but for now at least folks can see them.

G5 will go up this weekend at some point, G6 next week.

Anonymous said...

I read your stuff all the time but never comment (after all, I'm a Flames fan and that would just be wrong!). But this has been incredibly enjoyable reading. I'm same age as you and love reliving the '72 series this way.

Alice said...

So this fellow named Anonymous, turns out he's a Flames fan? That explains a few things.

I may have to go back and reread his other posts :-)

Bruce said...

Black Dog is offering to buy a pint for anyone who can identify which team Sinden is kitted up for in that photo.
The Barnacles maybe?

That would be the Oklahoma City Blazers, Adams Cup (CPHL) champions of 1966. Believe it or not, I recognized the photo instantly, in fact I actually own a copy of it. It's featured in one of my favourite items in my personal mishmash of hockey collectibles, the 1966-67 Maple Leaf Gardens wall calendar. It was given to me in the early 80s by a builder friend who found it on an office wall in an abandoned building, and thought of his friend Bruce the hockey fan. (Thank you again, John, wherever you are.)

Said calendar features the Leafs team pic in October (they would go on to win their last Cup), the Habs 1966 Stanley Cup champion team in November, and in December, team pix of the champs of the three top minor leagues - AHL, CPHL, and WHL.

The Blazers had a dynamite line-up featuring many future Stanley Cup champions. Sinden was a player-coach. Sitting right next to him but cropped out of your picture is one Glen Sather, who would experience his own successes against the Soviets in '84 and '87. Here's a list of some of their teammates: Joe Watson, J.P. Parise, Terry Crisp, Doug Favell, Gerry Cheevers, Derek Sanderson, Don Marcotte, Dallas Smith, Skip Krake.

Not that it was hard to make the Original Six NHL or anything, but the CPHL was two minor leagues down from the bigs.

Btw, January features the two NHL All-Star teams, February shows both the Allan Cup and Memorial Cup team pictures - that would be your Edmonton Oil Kings for the latter - the Easter Seals campaign in March, and all the individual trophy winners from the previous season in April. It is a goldmine that crosses the boundary from pre- to post-expansion era depending on how close you look at it. Unbelievable that somebody would ask a trivia question about it, but when you stop to think about it, there's an awful lot of trivia stuffed on those few pages.

Black Dog said...

lol Bruce, I would expect no less. First pint on the day we finally meet will be on me, the remainder on you. ;)

Mr DeBakey said...

The Maple Leaf Garden Calendars
Ahhh, yess.

I had the 64-65,65-66, 66-67 and 67-68.

In the post I refer to the Sep 71 copy of Hockey World magazine.
I found it along with my old hockey scrapbook, about 90% of which is those 4 MLG calendars cut and pasted into a scrap book. Using real glue & scissors!

The team shots are just a mess of well-known names.
The calendar featured team photos of
the Leaves [of course],
and including, but not limited to,
the following Cup winers:
Stanley - the Leaves, Canadiens
Calder [AHL] - Rochester 2x with Don Cherry, Al Arbour, Billy Harris, Mike Waltom
Lester Patrick [WHL] - the Buckaroos with Pat Stapleton and Doug Messier; the Totems with Guyle Fielder.
Adams [CHL] - The Blazers with Sinden, Cheevers, Sather, Sanderson & Parise. The St Paul Rangers coached by Fred Shero.
Memorial - Go Oil Kings! Brad Park's Marlies. The Niagra Falls Flyers.
Allan - The Drumheller Miners, The Sherbrooke Beavers

Its a Hoot.