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 1972 Canada Russia Series

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Guest4178 Posted - 09/27/2012 : 08:53:56
Today marks the 40th anniversary of game 8 in the 1972 Canada-Russian series. (The Russians were actually referred to as either U.S.S.R. or the Soviets back then.)

I watched a replay of the game last night (with all of the technical difficulties left as the game was viewed 40 years ago), and it was very interesting to see the speed of the game (not bad really, but not like today obviously), the style of play, players' time on ice, etc.

A few other things struck me as interesting, which I will pass along:

~ Phil Esposito was a horse, playing 28 minutes in game 8, and tallied 2 goals and an 2 assists.
~ All the Russian players wore helmets. Only one Canadian (Henderson) appeared to be wearing a helmet.
~ There was only one offside faceoff dot, which was just outside the blue-line in the middle of the ice
~ There was advertising on the boards (there wasn't in the NHL in 1972), and the ads featured North American companies such as Ford, CCM, etc.
~ With 3,000 Canadian fans in the seats, it seemed like a home game for Canada. The Canadian fans were louder than the roughly 12,000 remaining Russian fans.
~ When J.P. Parise was kicked out of the game (for threatening an official with his stick), he was also given a 10-minute misconduct. A player on the ice was supposed to serve the 10 minute misconduct, and the referee picked Esposito to serve the penalty. Esposito actually refused to go to the penalty box, and the referee let it go. (For those too young too remember, J.P. Parise is Zach Parise's dad.)

Here are a few more tidbits and stats which relate to the 8-game series as a whole:

~ Russia had 38 powerplays to Canada's 23.
~ Russia was 24% on the power play, and 91% on the penalty kill. (Canada was obviously the opposite of these statistics.)
~ Up until this tournament, the "box" was not used as a system in killing penalties in the NHL. It's one of many things the Russians taught "us" about the game.
~ The Russians considered Bill White to be Canada's top defenseman. He led the tournament in plus/minus at +7.
~ Canada had 267 shots on goals over the eight game series. Esposito had 52 of these shots, more than twice as many as any other player.

While most people remember that Bobby Orr was injured and couldn't play for Canada (he was in his prime too), and Bobby Hull and Gordie Howe were not allowed to play because they played in the upstart WHA, there were a few other key players missing from Canada's lineup, who would have made a difference.

J.C. Tremblay and Gerry Cheevers were also not allowed to play for the same reasons as Hull and Howe. Tremblay was a great puck-moving defenseman his style would have been great for playing the Russians. And Cheevers was one of the top three goalies in the NHL, and his style would have better than Dryden's. Dryden was too much of a stand-up goalie, and the Russians exploited that weakness. Cheevers was more of a scrambler, and in my opinion, better than Tony Esposito, who also played for Team Canada.

While Tretiak was great in net for the Russians, it was not really a goaltender's series. Tretiak's save percentage was .882, which is the same as Tony Esposito's. Esposito and Dryden each played four games in the series. While Dryden played the all-important game eight, his save percentage over four games was a dismal .838.

And what can you say about Henderson! Everyone knows that he scored the game winner in game 8. But he also had the game winners in games 6 & 7. And he almost had the game winner in game 5. But the Russians came back to win game 5 (they were down 3-0 after two periods) with four goals in the third period.

What a series!

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andyhack Posted - 10/19/2012 : 18:38:39

I have mixed emotions about that series because of this premeditated attack by Clarke (who generally I like but this was too much - and, worst of all, he was basically instructed to do it by Ferguson).

I was 8 years old in September of '72. Over the years I've had plenty of debates about this with friends and family but it always comes back to two wrongs don't make a right. No matter how sneaky, dirty, tricky, etc the Russians were in that series (and they were plenty!!!!!), this move by Clarke was just so wrong and, for me, taints the victory by Canada a lot.
The Duke Posted - 10/17/2012 : 21:33:21
Yeah, that was some series to watch...just after the cold war days...NO - BODY knew what to expect, of course Canadians thought that we would route Russia in a laugher series.....with all of our stars and all....what else would you anticipate ??

I can`t even tell anyone who wasn`t around then what the atmosphere in Canada was like leading up to this sereis......this was bigger than Christmas !!!!!

Both countries are sooooo familar with each other now, its just a formality.....up until this series....WE NEVER MET...our best didn`t play in the Olympics !!! Russia`s did...their gold medals didn`t mean anything to us because in our minds....they wern`t playing anyone....

What a series......the TSN turning point.........

When Bobby Clarke slashed and broke Valeri Kharlamov`s he was a great Russian player, what a creative hockey player.

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