Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The darkest night in the history of the Boston Bruins

Tonight the Boston Bruins travel up to snowbound Montreal to face their old rivals yet again. The two teams have played each other more times in both regular season play, and more playoff series, than any other two teams in NHL history. In the playoffs alone they have met 163 times - 46 more than second place Detroit vs Toronto.

We all remember what happened when they last met a month ago at the Garden.

2 months ago the Bruins blew a 2-0 lead late in the third period in Montreal....and in OT

The Boston Bruins have not won a Stanley Cup since 1972 but in 1979 they came oh so close.
When the Forum de Montreal closed in 1996, Red Fisher the longtime hockey writer wrote about the greatest game in the history of the building.
Was there ever a more exciting game than the one in 1979 when the Canadiens rallied for a tying goal in Game 7 of the Cup semifinal against the Bruins when Boston was caught with too many men on the ice?

The Canadiens, winners of three consecutive Stanley Cups, had won the first two games of the series, outscoring the Bruins 9-4. That was expected. Piece of cake. What nobody expected was that the Bruins would win the next two in Boston and split the next two. The teams faced off at the Forum in Game 7 for the right to face the New York Rangers in the Cup final.

Three hours and 26 minutes later, Mario Tremblay raced down right wing. On the left, Yvon Lambert sprinted for the net, arriving there in time to take Tremblay's pass ... and goal! The time: 9:33 into the first overtime.

What more could any group of athletes provide than what was delivered that night? How much deeper could this Boston team dig than the 3-1 lead they took into the third period, two from Wayne Cashman and another from Rick Middleton? How much work was needed from the Canadiens for the goals they got from Mark Napier and Guy Lapointe to tie the game?

Now, it's Middleton shooting from almost behind the net. The puck strikes Ken Dryden's arm and falls behind him with fewer than four minutes remaining. Game and series over, right? Incredibly, seconds later, with only 2:34 remaining in regulation, the Bruins are caught with too many men on the ice! Last chance and, as you'd expect, the Canadiens had their best on the ice. Lafleur and Robinson were there. So were Serge Savard, Steve Shutt and Jacques Lemaire.

The goal which sent the game into overtime happened this way:

Lafleur carried the puck up the ice and passed it to Lemaire, deep in the Boston zone. Lemaire promptly passed it back to Lafleur at the top of the circle. What he needed to send the game into overtime was a perfect shot, and that's what he produced with only 74 seconds remaining to beat a spectacular Gilles Gilbert.

I can not begin to describe the despair in Boston after this debacle as coming just months after Bucky F. Dent it was just too much for most Bostonians.

All Bruins fans have heard the infamous phrase 'too many men on the ice' - but unless you are over the age of 40 you most likely have never seen the game.

Here is the complete telecast from CBC's Hockey Night In Canada with the late Danny Gallivan calling the action.

If you don't have the time to watch the entire telecast here is when the penalty happened and the disaster that followed.

The Bruins fired coach Don Cherry after the game - and it was the luckiest thing that ever happened to him as a couple of years later Hockey Night In Canada tried him out as a commentator.

To the horror of many in Canada ESPECIALLY in Quebec - he is still there.

Cherry's memories of that night.

Cherry still loves Boston ( and the Bruins ) - as this clip from 2004 will show when Bostonians reacted to the booing of the United States anthem in Montreal - (which still continues, especially when the Bruins visit)


The Boston Bruins: Celebrating 75 Years

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