Saturday, January 07, 2012

Ken Dryden tracers from "The Game"

In my review of Ken Dryden's book "The Game," I listed seven of the details that I tried to trace. I now have an eighth one, and then a retrace of the second one.

These two updates were originally posted to the SIHR mailing list. The original seven are here. Thanks again to the Hockey Summary Project for the data making these tracers possible.

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8. Here's Dryden, from page 121 of my edition:

"A few months ago, we played the Colorado Rockies at the Forum. Early in the game, I missed an easy shot from the blueline, and a little unnerved, for the next fifty minutes I juggled long shots, and allowed big rebounds for three additional goals. After each Rockies goal, the team would put on a brief spurt and score quickly, and so with only minutes remaining, the game was tied. Then the Rockies scored again, this time a long, sharp-angled shot that squirted through my legs. The game had seemed finally lost. But in the last three minutes, Lapointe scored, then Lafleur, and we won 6-5. Alone in the dressing room later .... I just sat there, unable to understand why I felt the way I did. Only slowly did it come to me: I had been irrelevant; I couldn't even lose the game."

In Dryden's career, I found 12 Canadiens games against Colorado. Montreal won 11 of them and tied one. But none of them was by a score of 6-5.

Montreal did not have any 6-5 wins at all in 1978-79 (when the book is set), or in the previous two seasons. In Dryden's entire career, I found only two 6-5 Montreal wins where he was in net.

One was February 12, 1972, against the Kings. The narrative doesn't match. In that game, the Habs led 6-3, and then the Kings scored two late goals.

The other was November 16, 1972. In that game, Dryden was replaced by Michel Plasse after the first period, so that doesn't match either.

So, I extended the search to look for all games where Dryden gave up 5+ goals, but the Canadiens won anyway. There were five such games:

February 12, 1972, 6-5 against LA (described above)
November 22, 1974, 7-6 against Kansas City
February 18, 1976, 7-5 against Toronto
November 21, 1976, 9-5 against Toronto
December 23, 1977, 7-5 against New York Islanders.

None of the games match exactly, but the Kansas City game is the best candidate:

-- It was against the team that eventually became the Rockies;

-- The opposition scored late (14:49 of the third), and the Habs won it later (17:53);

-- It was a one-goal game;

-- Dryden probably didn't play great (6 goals on 21 shots, seven per period);

-- The last five goals alternated by team.

But other things don't match:

-- The Scouts tied it late, not took the lead late;

-- The Habs scored one goal to win, not two;

-- The goal was scored by Doug Risebrough, not Lapointe or Lafleur -- in fact, neither Lapointe nor Lafleur scored at all that game;

-- The early goals didn't alternate (The goal sequence was kMMMMkkkMkMkM);

-- The game was in Kansas City, not Montreal;

-- The game happened several years previously, rather than months.

I checked the Globe and Mail recap for that game ... it was just a couple of paragraphs long, and didn't mention Dryden at all, or how the Kansas City goals went in. I don't have online access to any Montreal newspapers to get a more detailed game story.

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2. Number 2 in my blog post listed a game against Toronto. Dryden writes that the Leafs tie the game early, get confident that they can keep up with the Canadiens, and begin to take over the play. But Mark Napier and Pat Hughes score two quick goals for the Habs. The Canadiens score two more, and then the Leafs get two late. The next day, the players wonder why coach Scotty Bowman didn't give them hell for allowing those two late goals.

It all adds up to 6-4. There was no 6-4 win in Toronto in 1978-79.

So, I looked for other games that might match.

There were only two games during Dryden's career where Napier and Hughes both scored.

One was November 15, 1978, a 6-1 win over Colorado. That doesn't match.

But the game of January, 17, 1979 is probably it. It matches, though not exactly:

-- It's in 1978-79, the season Dryden was writing about.

-- It was against Los Angeles, not Toronto, and home, not road.

-- Although the Kings scored to make it 2-1 at 8:43 of the second period, they never tied it up.

-- After the Kings' goal to make it 2-1, Napier and Hughes scored to make it 4-1.

-- After that, the Habs scored three more goals (not two): Houle, then Napier and Hughes again.

-- After that, the Kings got their two late goals.

-- The final was 7-3, not 6-4.


But, I think, pretty close anyway.



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