The last time the Bruins won the Stanley Cup in the old Boston Garden was 1941. 29 years later history would repeat itself. With its cramped dressing rooms, painted cinderblock walls, and perhaps the smallest ice surface, players had to play aggressive and the Bruins played aggressively. Boston, at its core, is a hockey city, and in the ’70s, the Bruins owned it.
The late ’60s and early ’70s ushered the era of the Big, Bad Bruins with a roster boasting with the likes of Derek Sanderson, Wayne Cashman, Ken Hodge, Phil Esposito, Gerry Cheevers and Number Four-Bobby Orr. The defenseman had a breakout year that season, leading the league with 120 points and becoming the first d-man in league history to score 100 points. Esposito had 99 points, while John McKenzie had 70 points. Johnny Bucyk netted a career-high of 31 goals that same year.
RUN FOR THE CUP
In the quarter-finals the Bruins would be tested as they faced the New York Rangers, who extended the series to six games. Boston would open the series at home winning the first two games, and the Rangers would go on to win the next two at Madison Square Garden. The Bruins would go on to win Game 6 to face Chicago in the Divison Finals.
Boston swept the Blackhawks in four games and found themselves advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1958. The showdown between the Bruins and the St. Louis Blues opened up at the St. Louis Arena. Boston dominated the first three games, easily beating the Blues 6-1, 6-2, and 4-1. Fittingly on Mother’s Day, May 10th, 1970 one of hockey’s most iconic moments would be captured at around 40 seconds in overtime.
With a little over six minutes left in regulation and St. Louis up 3-2 Boston’s Johnny Bucyk would even the score, sending the game into overtime. Not wanting the series to shift back to St. Louis, Bruins Coach Harry Sinden knew he had to keep the Blues at bay and opted to go with Sanderson centering alongside Wayne Carleton on the left and Eddie Westfall on the right. Defenseman Don Awrey would play on the left with Orr on the right.
Known for this speed and tenacity with the puck, it would be a mistake to leave Orr alone on the ice. Unfortunately, that very mistake proved to be costly for St. Louis. The puck dropped a little after 5:00 pm and Boston would keep the pressure down the Blues end. As the puck went around the boards Orr would get to it first as he blocked St. Louis’ Larry Keenan’s attempt to the clear the zone.
Derek “Turk” Sanderson would play behind the goal line as Orr advanced with the puck towards the goal. Orr passed the puck to Sanderson with Blues’ Noel Picard standing by as the sole defenseman guarding his post. Fellow defenseman Jean-Guy Talbot would make a play for Sanderson, leaving Orr alone:
Bruins Derek Sanderson
“He leaves Bobby alone and comes to me. If he stays there, I have to carry it out. Once Bobby was clean, it was just a little flip out and . . . bink!
“I was in the right place at the right time and ended up scoring the winning goal in overtime off a great feed from Turk.”Bruins Bobby Orr
Picard would jam the stick in between Orr’s ankles, launching him into the air, and in that split second history was made in the hot and deteriorating Boston Garden (there was no air-conditioning). Quick research into just how warm it was that day showed a temperature of 90 degrees, however, at that moment, no one cared. Fans spilled onto the ice and the Bruins would defeat the Blues 4-3 in overtime, becoming the Stanley Cup Champions.
“Before May 1970, what I wanted more than anything was to win the Stanley Cup. After May 1970, what I wanted more than anything was to win it again. Winning with a bunch of guys who had battled alongside each other for months is what made that Stanley Cup better than I’d ever dreamed. We all wanted more of the same thing. And we knew that we had the team to do just that.”-Bobby Orr
Featured image courtesy of The Boston Globe; Goal frame images courtesy of Bobby Orr.net
Follow me on Twitter @pastagrl88