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Greatest Game EVER!

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The term 'classic' is bandied about far too much in professional sports, but in this instance, it is undoubtedly most appropriate.

There was certainly no shortage of hype surrounding the 1975 New Year's Eve clash between the Montreal Canadiens, the NHL's undisputed powerhouse, and the Soviet Red Army, boasting an equally talented lineup from top to bottom. And while both squads were stacked with superstar performers, it was the men between the pipes, more specifically, Ken Dryden and Vladislav Tretiak, that took top billing.

It seems most people had short memories when it came to the Soviets ability to play the game. Just over three years earlier, the Russian national team pushed Team Canada, an elite group of NHL standouts, to the brink in the legendary 1972 Summit Series. Some observers termed it an aberration, but for the players who either competed or watched the eight-game back-and-forth battle, they knew better.

The thousands in attendance at the Montreal Forum on December 31, 1975, figured on only one outcome. Their beloved Habs, in the midst of yet another dominating campaign, would handle their rivals with relative ease, not even the great Tretiak a worthy foe for Montreal's skilled shooters.

Although two points weren't at stake, the game was far from meaningless. As the Canadiens players and supporters saw things, it was, essentially, about pride and proving a point for anyone associated with les bleu, blanc et rouge.

As the two sides readied for the opening face-off, seldom in the stands or on the benches could have ever expected as to what was about to unfold on the ice.

Montreal, who would go on to win the Stanley Cup that season, seized control from the outset, dashing into the Soviet defensive zone at will, a relentless offensive surge that had their opponents reeling. When they weren't creating scoring chances, they were dishing out hard and heavy bodychecks, a not-so-subtle reminder as to who the Red Army players were up against.

At the end of the first period, Montreal had limited the Soviets to four shots on net, a dominating display that brought the Forum faithful to their feet. It seemed as though the Red Army was defenceless against the Canadiens juggernaut, a polished and precise unit.

Yet one member of the Soviet squad, a familiar masked man to most in attendance, refused to be bullied by the NHL club on the verge of yet anther dynasty. Tretiak, the goaltender who nearly backstopped the Soviet national team to victory in the 1972 Summit Series, literally did everything in his power to keep the game close, providing acrobatic saves time and again.

As the game wore on, Montreal intensified their attack, wave after wave of high-percentage chances waged on No. 20. The Canadiens were in total control, yet the crowd began to grow restless. At the end of the second period, Tretiak's rival at the other end of the rink, Dryden, had faced only seven shots.

Montreal's textbook style was in sharp contrast to the Soviets swooping, circular game plan - the very same approach Edmonton would perfect in the NHL in the 1980s and 1990s. Watching the two distinctly different strategies come together, was quite simply, a brilliant spectacle.

With every minute played, the game, quite literally, became that much more compelling.

Up by a 3-2 count, Montreal, who just as easily could have been ahead by three, four or perhaps five goals, found it increasingly difficult to light the lamp, while at the same time, attempting to interrupt the fleet-skating flow of their foes.

A late goal by Boris Aleksandrov, courtesy of a three-on-one rush, secured a gratifying 3-3 tie for the Red Army. Perhaps it was Montreal blueliner Serge Savard who best summed up the tremendous tete-a-tete tilt that ended in a deadlock.

"God was Russian tonight," said the future Hall of Fame inductee, of the game that is usually found at the top of any 'Greatest Hockey Games Ever Played' list.

It was never pegged to be labeled as such, but some 27 years later, that New Year's Eve clash at one of hockey's greatest buildings is still considered what it rightly should be ... a genuine classic.

nhl alumni

Somehow I think I missed the gist of this thread... :eyes:

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  • 2 weeks later...

That's absolutely amazing.

I tried everything I could. I even did Johnny Johnson from News Radio. JJ Evans from Good Times. I see how it works now because I finally stumped the system with Mr. Fargis from Family Guy ;)

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