1970 NHL Stanley Cup Finals

The NHL’s last two Stanley Cup champions face off for the 1970 title.

Editor’s note: This is a fictional account of the history of the NHL beginning in 1966–67. This narrative was created by playing Franchise Hockey Manager 4. For an introduction to this dynasty, visit: https://medium.com/historical-sports-gaming/re-writing-nhl-history-an-introduction-9ade4d8fe652.

Philadelphia will go for its second straight Stanley Cup against the New York Rangers, champions from the 1968 season. Which franchise will be able to snag its second title in a three-year period?

1970 Stanley Cup Finals: Philadelphia vs. New York

GAME ONE — At Madison Square Garden in New York

Goalie Matchup: Tony Esposito (PHI) vs. Ed Giacomin (NY)

Scratches: New York — Randy Legge (shoulder, IR), Bill Collins (healthy), Bryan Hextall (healthy), Dick Mattiussi (healthy), Leon Rochefort (healthy), Jim Watson (healthy) Philadelphia — Larry Mickey (collarbone, IR), Gary Dornhoefer (biceps, IR), Murray Oliver (wrist, IR), Bob Berry (healthy), Mike Corrigan (healthy), Joe Watson (healthy)

Recap: The series opened with a relatively quiet first period. After no scoring in the first 20 minutes, the two teams lit up the scorebaord in period two. After New York scored early in the period, the Flyers got four goals in a span of nine minutes. Two goals from Paul Henderson in a 55 second span late in the period made it 4–1 Flyers. The Rangers would pull within two with 51 seconds left as Jean Ratelle tipped a Donnie Marshall shot into the net. In the third, however, the Flyers would break the game open again as Derek Sanderson would rip a wrister past Giacomin to make it 5–2. New York would get a goal on a Rod Gilbert breakaway with 2:27 left, but it was too little, too late.

GAME TWO — At Madison Square Garden in New York

Goalie Matchup: Tony Esposito (PHI) vs. Ed Giacomin (NY)

Scratches: New York — Randy Legge (shoulder, IR), Bill Collins (healthy), Gary Sabourin (healthy), Dick Mattiussi (healthy), Ron Schock (healthy), Rod Seiling (healthy) Gary Dornhoefer (biceps, IR), Murray Oliver (wrist, IR), Bob Berry (healthy), Mike Corrigan (healthy), Dick Cherry (healthy)

Recap: The Rangers dominated out of the gate in Game 2. Early, a Bob Wall shot deflected of Ratelle and in for a 1–0 N.Y. lead. Ratelle would score again off a faceoff a minutes later to make it 2–0. Later in the period, Vic Hadfield threw a shot on net that Leon Rochefort deflected in. The Flyers would get a Pat Stapleton goal to make it 3–1, but New York scored again before the end of the period as Jim Neilson scored on a breakaway to make it 4–1 Rangers. The Flyers pulled Esposito after the first period and put in Joe Daley, but the damage was done. The Flyers never got back into the game despite scoring twice in the third period. The Rangers added three goals in the third and won, 7–3.

GAME THREE — At The Spectrum in Philadelphia

Goalie Matchup: Tony Esposito (PHI) vs. Ed Giacomin (NY)

Scratches: New York — Randy Legge (shoulder, IR), Bill Collins (healthy), Gary Sabourin (healthy), Dick Mattiussi (healthy), Bryan Hextall (healthy), Rod Seiling (healthy) Philadelphia — Larry Mickey (collarbone, IR), Gary Dornhoefer (biceps, IR), Murray Oliver (wrist, IR), Bob Berry (healthy), Mike Corrigan (healthy), Joe Watson (healthy)

Recap: The Rangers scored first halfway through the first when Brad Park fired a one-timer past Esposito. Later in the period, Esposito let in a soft goal from Red Berenson and New York went up 2–0. In the second, the Flyers pulled within one as Stapleton scored on a breakaway. Halfway through the period, however, the Rangers re-gained a two-goal lead when Marshall fired a point shot past Esposito. Marshall would score again early in the third period on a bad angle shot to make it 4–1. The final 10 minutes of the game got ugly as New York ran the Flyers off the ice. Hadfield scored twice in a three minute span, one off a really bad turnover by the Flyers Harry Howell, to make it 6–1. With two minutes left, Marshall completed a hat trick when he scored easily after being left wide open in the slot. The Rangers embarrassed the Flyers, 7–1, in Philadelphia.

GAME FOUR — At The Spectrum in Philadelphia

Goalie Matchup: Tony Esposito (PHI) vs. Ed Giacomin (NY)

Scratches: New York — Randy Legge (shoulder, IR), Bill Collins (healthy), Gary Sabourin (healthy), Dick Mattiussi (healthy), Bryan Hextall (healthy), Rod Seiling (healthy) Philadelphia — Larry Mickey (collarbone, IR), Gary Dornhoefer (biceps, IR), Murray Oliver (wrist, IR), Bob Berry (healthy), Mike Corrigan (healthy), Joe Watson (healthy)

Recap: The Flyers were much better in Game 4 and peppered Giacomin early. Late in the first, Wayne Cashman scored on a breakaway for a 1–0 Flyer lead. New York settled down in the second period and were able to tie the game on a two-man advantage midway through the period. Wall scored on a shot from the right circle. Late in the period, the Flyers re-took the lead on a bad angle goal from Cashman. Philadelphia finally got an insurance goal early in the third when Brit Selby fed Simon Nolet, who ripped a one-timer past Giacomin. New York got a goal from Rochefort off a faceoff later in the period, but never managed to tie the game. The Flyers win 3–2 to tie the series. New York suffered a double whammy as the Rangers lost both Gilbert and Neilson to injuries. Neither player would play again in the series.

GAME FIVE — At Madison Square Garden in New York

Goalie Matchup: Tony Esposito (PHI) vs. Ed Giacomin (NY)

Scratches: New York — Randy Legge (shoulder, IR), Rod Gilbert (calf, IR), Jim Neilson (cheekbone), Bill Collins (healthy), Dick Mattiussi (healthy), Leon Rochefort (healthy), Ron Schock (healthy) Philadelphia — Larry Mickey (collarbone, IR), Gary Dornhoefer (biceps, IR), Murray Oliver (wrist, IR), Bob Berry (healthy), Mike Corrigan (healthy), Joe Watson (healthy)

Recap: New York came out firing in Game 5, but Esposito held up strong in net. The Flyers scored halfway through the first on a deflection into the net by Jim Pappin fora 1–0 lead. In the second period, Jim Johnson took the opening faceoff, skated to the blueline and fired a shot past Giacomin to score 10 seconds into the period for a 2–0 lead. The Rangers continued to pepper Esposito, but he made several solid saves to keep them off the board. In the third period, the Rangers only got 5 shots on goal as Philadelphia played shutdown defense. The Flyers would win 2–0, but the Rangers suffered another huge loss when Marshall crumpled to the ice in the third period after taking a hit from Ed Van Impe. Marshall suffered a severe thigh injury and is done for the year.

GAME SIX — At The Spectrum in Philadelphia

Goalie Matchup: Tony Esposito (PHI) vs. Ed Giacomin (NY)

Scratches: New York — Randy Legge (shoulder, IR), Rod Gilbert (calf, IR), Jim Neilson (cheekbone), Donnie Marshall (thigh), Bill Collins (healthy), Dick Mattiussi (healthy), Gary Sabourin (healthy) Philadelphia — Larry Mickey (collarbone, IR), Gary Dornhoefer (biceps, IR), Murray Oliver (wrist, IR), Bob Berry (healthy), Mike Corrigan (healthy), Joe Watson (healthy)

Recap: The desperate Rangers scored 2 minutes in when Rod Seiling’s shot was deflected into the net by Ratelle. The Flyers would tie the game late in the first as Henderson deflected a Jim Johnson shot past Giacomin. In the second period, the Flyers controlled play and continued to chip away at Giacomin. Late in the period, Philadelphia took the lead as Sanderson fed Selby for a goal and 2–1 lead. The Rangers came out firing in the third period, but Esposito was nearly unbeatable for a second straight game. With 8:35 left, Henderson scored his second goal on a power play for a 3–1 lead. With time winding down, Cashman added a goal when he scored on a rebound off a Gord Labossiere shot. The Flyers win 4–1, and take the Stanley Cup in 6 games!

My Reaction: The key of the series was a tactical change I made with the Flyers between games three and four. After seeing the defense get burned multiple times in games two and three, I decided to back down the aggressive offensive approach the team went with all season and focus instead on a low tempo, conservative approach to prevent odd-man rushes and breakaways. The change worked as New York scored just three times in the final three games with only 61 shots on goal. The Flyers got some breaks, as New York suffered injuries to three of their five best players late in the series, including both of their first line wingers. This really seemed to hurt them in the final games as New York couldn’t muster any offense. Regardless, this was a huge accomplishment. The Flyers were without their top center themselves, but managed to not miss a beat in those final three games. Winning back-to-back Stanley Cups just three years into the franchise’s existence is remarkable.

Conn Smythe Trophy Winner —Tony Esposito (G) Philadelphia — An argument could be made for Paul Henderson to win this award, but in the end Esposito’s numbers were too hard for the voters to ignore. Esposito had his share of clunkers in the playoffs, which makes his numbers even more remarkable. Esposito earned a remarkable five shutouts in 17 games, with a goals against average of just 1.80 and a .913 save percentage. This award is the first of what will likely be many for the young goaltender.

NHL 1970 Playoff Leaders

Goals —Paul Henderson, Philadelphia — 12

Assists — Bobby Orr, Boston — 12

Points — Bobby Orr, Boston and Paul Henderson, Philadelphia — 16

Penalty Minutes — Vic Hadfield, New York — 48

Shots —Jim Pappin, Philadelphia — 81

Goals Against Average — Tony Esposito, Philadelphia — 1.80

Save Percentage — Johnny Bower, Detroit — .931

Shutouts — Tony Esposito, Philadelphia — 5

Like what you read? Give Historical Sports Gamer a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.