The 1972 Stanley Cup Final NHL championship series was contested by the Boston Bruins and the New York Rangers. It was the Rangers first appearance in the championship series since the 1950 Stanley Cup Finals. The Bruins had won the Cup two years previously in the 1970 Final. It was the second Boston-New York Final series, the other being the 1929 Final. The Bruins won the best-of-seven series four games to two.
Paths to the Final
Boston defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 4–1 and the St. Louis Blues 4–0 to advance to the Final. New York defeated the defending champion Montreal Canadiens 4–2 and the Chicago Black Hawks 4–0 to set up an "Original Six" final.
Boston Bruins 4, New York Rangers 2
The Bruins and Rangers last met in the 1970 Quarter-finals where the Bruins won the hard fought series in six games. The 1972 Stanley Cup Finals would also be won by Boston in six games. Boston's goaltenders Gerry Cheevers and Eddie Johnston both played three games as did New York's Eddie Giacomin and Gilles Villemure. Jean Ratelle rushed his return from injury to play in the Finals but came back too early. A dominant player during the regular season, who despite missing the last month still finished third in scoring, he recorded just one assist in the series. The regular season's top goal scorer, Phil Esposito, didn't score in the Finals but contributed nine assists while Ken Hodge had 5 goals and 8 points. Bobby Orr scored the Cup winning goal, but not in as dramatic a fashion as in 1970. He also won the Conn Smythe Trophy and was tied with Esposito for most points in the playoffs with 24.
Game 1 at the Boston Garden saw Gerry Cheevers start in net for the Bruins and Eddie Giacomin for the Rangers. Dale Rolfe opened the scoring at 3:52 of the first period with a slapshot that beat Cheevers low to the glove side. Less than two minutes later, John McKenzie rushed into the Rangers zone and criss-crossed with Fred Stanfield who scored low to Giacomin's stick side. The Bruins then scored four straight goals. Ken Hodge put in a rebound from a Don Awrey shot at 15:48 to make it 2-1. With Awrey off for elbowing, Ed Westfall picked off a Vic Hadfield pass and sent Derek Sanderson in. Sanderson deked Bobby Rousseau and roofed a shorthanded goal over Giacomin's shoulder at 17:29. Still on the penalty kill, Ken Hodge blasted a slapshot home to make it 4-1 Boston. At 10:46 of the second period, Hodge completed a Hat trick by one-timing a Phil Esposito shot that bounced off the boards for a 5-1 lead. Rod Gilbert made it 5-2 on the power play, firing in a shot from a Hadfield rebound. At 1:56 of the third period, on the power play, Hadfield's low shot beat Cheevers to the glove side. Walt Tkaczuk scored off a face-off at 7:48 to make it 5-4. At 9:17, Awrey lost control of the puck circling the Bruins net and Bruce MacGregor completed the Rangers comeback. However, at 17:44, Garnet Bailey beat Brad Park to the outside and backhanded the winning goal over Giacomin's shoulder for a 6-5 Boston win.
Game 2 at Boston saw Ed Johnston and Gilles Villemure start in net and the game was a goaltenders duel. John Bucyk opened the scoring at 16:15 of the first period on the power play after Bobby Orr spun away from Bruce MacGregor and fed Bucyk a perfect pass to the left of Villemure. In the second period, Vic Hadfield stripped Ed Westfall of the puck at the Bruins blueline and sent Jim Neilson and Rod Gilbert in on a 2 on 1. Gilbert slipped Neilson's pass between Johnston's pads to tie the score at 7:23. In the third period at nearly the halfway mark, MacGregor was sent off for tripping. Phil Esposito won a face-off in the Rangers zone back to Mike Walton who raced down the left wing and sent a perfect pass to Ken Hodge who tipped in the game winner. The Rangers couldn't convert on a power play of their own with less than five minutes left and the game ended a 2-1 Bruins victory.
Game 3 at Madison Square Garden saw the teams switch back to the Game 1 starters, Cheevers and Giacomin. Special teams would see the Rangers to their first victory in the series. After Dallas Smith took a penalty 12 seconds into the game, Brad Park scored with the man advantage. New York then killed off three consecutive penalties before scoring two more power play goals, by Rod Gilbert and Park again. Mike Walton countered at 14:14 to make it 3-1 Rangers going into the second period. Bobby Orr scored at 1:10 to cut the Rangers lead to 3-2 but goals by Rod Gilbert and Pete Stemkowski put the game out of reach. A scoreless third period saw the Rangers cruise to a 5-2 win and cut the Bruins series lead to two games to one.
Game 4 at New York had Johnston back in net for the Bruins while Giacomin remained in for the Rangers. It was a fight-filled match with eight in the first period alone. Orr dominated this game and opened the scoring at 5:26 of the first period as he took a Mike Walton pass while in full flight, split the Rangers defense and fired a shot over Giacomin's shoulder for a 1-0 Bruins lead. Less than three minutes later on the power play, John McKenzie fished the puck out of a goal mouth scramble and sent it back to Orr who one-timed a low slapshot in to make it 2-0 Boston. At 16:55, a melee broke out that included Orr and Brad Park exchanging blows. In the second period, with Mike Walton in the penalty box, Don Marcotte executed a perfect give-and-go with Orr which Marcotte finished off with a backhand over Giacomin for a 3-0 score. Ted Irvine cut the lead to 3-1 at 18:38, beating Johnston to the stick side on a breakaway. The teams calmed down in the third period and defensive play reigned. With less than two minutes left, Rod Seiling scored on the power play but the Rangers couldn't mark another and the Bruins took a three games to one hold on the series with a 3-2 win.
Game 5 at Boston saw Johnston start his second straight game of the Finals while Villemure was back in the nets for the Rangers. Wayne Cashman scored his first of the series as he found the puck in a goalmouth scramble and backhanded it between Villemure's legs at 3:55. Dale Rolfe tied it up at 13:45 off a Walt Tkaczuk rebound. Rolfe took an interference penalty less than a minute later. Phil Esposito dug the puck out of the corner and sent a no-look backhand pass to Fred Stanfield in the slot. Villemure stopped Stanfield's shot but Ken Hodge put in the rebound to make it 2-1 Boston on the power play. Despite five power plays in the second period, including a lengthy 5 on 3 for Boston, neither team scored, though Brad Park hit the crossbar on a breakaway. At 2:56 of the third period, Bobby Rousseau tied the game up with a low slapshot that went between Johnston's pads. At 12:45, Rousseau took a short pass from Ted Irvine and fired a high shot over Johnston's glove. The Bruins pressed furiously but couldn't even the score. Villemure was excellent, stopping 17 shots in the third period. The Bruins out shot the Rangers 38-26 but New York prevailed 3-2.
Game 6 at New York had Cheevers back in goal for Boston, while the Rangers stuck with Villemure. The first period was penalty-filled and at 10:25 on the power play, Bobby Orr took a Ken Hodge pass at the point. He spun away from the check of Bruce MacGregor and fired a low shot that beat Villemure to the stick side. Ken Hodge and Vic Hadfield fought minutes later and then an altercation between Wayne Cashman and Gary Doak resulted in Orr receiving a misconduct penalty and missing the rest of the period. The second period was scoreless but continued to be rough as Derek Sanderson and Rod Gilbert fought before Cashman and Walt Tkaczuk duked it out. With so much at stake, the teams played a clean third period and the Rangers took only one penalty, but it proved fatal. At 5:10, Wayne Cashman tipped in an Orr point shot on the power play to make it 2-0 Bruins. The Rangers pressed and out shot the Bruins 33-27 in the game but Cheevers was unbeatable. Cashman sealed the win on a two on one with Esposito, as his shot trickled between Villemure's pads into the net. Cheevers earned the shutout in Boston's 3-0 victory and Bobby Orr became the first player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy twice as playoff MVP.
|1||April 30||New York Rangers||5-6||Boston Bruins||0-1|
|2||May 2||New York Rangers||1-2||Boston Bruins||0-2|
|3||May 4||Boston Bruins||2-5||New York Rangers||2-1|
|4||May 7||Boston Bruins||3-2||New York Rangers||3-1|
|5||May 9||New York Rangers||3-2||Boston Bruins||2-3|
|6||May 11||Boston Bruins||3-0||New York Rangers||4-2|
Boston Bruins 1972 Stanley Cup Champions
Stanley Cup Engraving
- The Boston Bruins were misspelled as BQSTQN BRUINS with two "Q"'s instead O's. Boston was spelled correctly on Replica Cup created in 1992–93.
- Every winning member engraved on the Stanley Cup with Boston in 1972 already appeared on the Stanley Cup. The only other time in Stanley Cup history, that at least one member engraved on the Cup was not a first time winner was in 1960.
- In 1970, Boston included three players on the Stanley Cup who did not play for them. In 1972 Chris Hayes† (his only NHL game) and Garry Peters† both played in the finals, but names were not engraved on the Stanley Cup.
Brief highlights of the 1972 Rangers-Canadiens Quarter-finals, Rangers-Black Hawks Semi-finals, Bruins-Leafs Quarter-finals and Bruins-Blues Semi-finals before highlights of all six games of the 1972 Stanley Cup Finals.
Stanley Cup Champions
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