The Bruins and Red Wings last met in the 1946 Semi-finals where the Bruins won 4 games to 1. Detroit were heavy favorites, having finished in first place with 21 more points than Boston. Boston's Woody Dumart effectively checked Gordie Howe, limiting him to 2 goals in the series, having scored 49 in the regular season. Boston's line of Ed Sandford, Johnny Peirson and Fleming Mackell led offensively with Sandford scoring 6 goals. Detroit's coach Tommy Ivan acknowledged that Bruins goalie Jim Henry was the biggest reason for Boston's upset. Detroit had over 40 shots in every game but one in the series.
Game 2 at Detroit saw the Bruins bounce back. Playing with a greater commitment to defense and countering off the rush, Fleming Mackell staked the Bruins to a 1-0 lead before Howe tied it up on the Power play with John McIntyre in the box. Making up for his penalty, McIntyre's pass to Dave Creighton put the Bruins ahead 2-1 at the end of the first period. The Wings couldn't solve Jim Henry in the second period but veteran Joe Klukay put the Bruins up 3-1. Third period goals by Bruins Johnny Peirson and Creighton's second of the game stunned the Wings crowd. Two late goals by Metro Prystai weren't enough as the Bruins won 5-3 and tied the series going to Boston.
Game 3 at the Boston Garden was the turning point in the series. In a clean, hard-fought game in which only two penalties were called, Ed Sandford opening the scoring for the Bruins. Tony Leswick tied it up in the second but the Wings couldn't solve Jim Henry and the game went into overtime. Dave Creighton fed Jack McIntyre a pass at 12:29 of the first OT who snapped it past Sawchuk for a Bruins 2-1 win.
Game 4 at Boston was a reversal of Game 1. The Bruins jumped out to a 2-0 lead on first period goals by Sandford and McIntyre. After an early second period fight between Mackell and Pavelich, the Bruins poured it on and goals by Milt Schmidt, McIntyre's second of the game and Dave Creighton made it 5-0 Boston. The Wings recovered later in the second and goals by Prystai and Delvecchio made it 5-2. Henry barred the door in the third period and Sandford's second of the game made it 6-2 Bruins. The Wings were on the brink of elimination going back to Detroit.
Game 5 at Detroit saw the Wings determined to not be eliminated at home. They came out on fire and goals by Lindsay and Bob Goldham in the game's first minute had them in front 2-0. The game got chippy and multiple penalties for high sticking were called. Benny Woit made it 3-0 Wings but the rough play continued as Klukay and Lindsay got into a mix-up. In the second period, Howe scored his second and last goal of the series before Ed Sandford got the Bruins on the board. However, the Wings Johnny Wilson responded and the period ended with the Wings up 5-1. After an early goal in the third period by Sandford, the game boiled over. Leo Labine was given a misconduct for high sticking. Glen Skov made it 6-2 Detroit but the Bruins wouldn't relent and Schmidt made it 6-3. Tony Leswick high sticked Fleming Mackell resulting in a fight and the Bruins going on the power play. Schmidt scored making it 6-4. After Marcel Pronovost took an interference penalty, a frustrated Terry Sawchuk protested to referee Red Storey which resulted in a misconduct. The Wings held on for an unconvincing 6-4 win.
Game 6 at Boston went wrong from the beginning for the Red Wings. Tony Leswick took a slashing penalty and Ed Sandford scored his 6th goal of the series on the power play to open the scoring for Boston. The Bruins went up 2-0 in the second on McIntyre's goal. Late in the second, third liner Reg Sinclair gave the Wings hope, cutting the lead to 2-1. In the third period, the Wings poured it on but to no avail. Woody Dumart continued to hold Howe off the board and a long shot by Fleming Mackell got by Sawchuk making it 3-1 Bruins. Ted Lindsay responded two minutes later but the first playoff goal for Leo Labine sealed a 4-2 victory and a 4-2 series win for the Bruins.
A fascinating video of hockey at all levels in 1953 featuring Jean Béliveau playing for the Quebec Aces and at the 6:45 mark, three minutes of excellent footage of the January 17, 1953 Canadiens-Red Wings game. Gordie Howe's game tying goal at 18:53 of the third period is shown.