Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Crowning Victory

There is a new member in the Stanley Cup club - the Los Angeles Kings.

For the first time in franchise history, they were crowned champions,  thanks to their 6-1 victory over New Jersey. With a 16-4 run in post-season play, the Kings record shows they are deserving of the title.

The first 1967 expansion team to win all the marbles were the Philadelphia Flyers. They accomplished this historic feat in 1974.

On April 9, 1974, Philadelphia began their Stanley Cup adventure against Atlanta in the quarter-finals. Coach Fred Shero and his crew swept Atlanta and advanced to the semi-finals to meet the New York Rangers.

The best-of-seven went the distance, with the seventh and deciding game taking place on May 5th in Philadelphia. Having home ice advantage, the Flyers slipped by New York, defeating them 4-3.

Making their first Stanley Cup Final appearance, Philly opened on the road in Boston Garden on May 7, 1974.

After falling 3-2 in game one, the Flyers rebounded in game two, with a 3-2 overtime victory.

When the series shifted to Philadelphia, the Flyers dominated, taking both encounters. They won by scores of 4-1 and 4-2.

In game five, back in Boston, the Bruins delivered a wake-up call to Philadelphia. Facing elimination, Boston skated to a convincing 5-1 win.

On May 19, the two clubs met in Philadelphia for game six.

Looking for any advantage, the Flyers arranged for Kate Smith to be in attendance. It was only her second trip to centre ice in the Spectrum to perform God Bless America.

Flyer forward Bill Barber commented on the impact this had on him and his teammates. "She gets the fans jumping and they give us a lift," explained Barber.

As the Final progressed, it became evident Philadelphia would have to be more than the Broad Street Bullies. Their goon tactics could create mayhem, but more was required against a tough opponent like the Big Bad Bruins.

Hockey skills would win the Cup, not fear and intimidation. Thus, it came as no surprise when Boston and Philadelphia stuck to clean hockey in game six.

In game six, defence became a key component. The Flyers had a lot to deal with in this regard. Stopping Boston meant putting the brakes on Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito.

At 14:38 of period one, Philadelphia's Rick MacLeish opened up the scoring, beating Bruins goalie Gilles Gilbert.

"I saw Moose (Andre Dupont) fire the shot from the point when he blocked a Bruin clearing attempt. Then a defenceman blocked my view, so I just stuck out my stick and the puck hit and glanced past Gilbert," said Macleish when describing his goal.

From that moment on, Bernie Parent backstopped the Flyers to a 1-0 Stanley Cup winning victory.

Fans spilled onto the ice surface to join the Flyers in their celebration. This prevented NHL president Clarence Campbell from presenting Lord Stanley's mug at centre ice. Bobby Clarke accepted hockey's grand prize along the boards, as Campbell couldn't make it any further.

Now, it is time for the Los Angeles Kings and their fans to do some celebrating.

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