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AND NOW THE STANLEY CUP
Marshall Dann
March 18, 1957
The team that is in first place when the National Hockey League season ends on March 24 will win a little-known piece of hardware called the Prince of Wales Trophy—but the season will by no means be over. Two days later the league's top four teams will begin three weeks of Stanley Cup playoffs—in which the first-and third-place teams and the second-and fourth-place teams tangle in two best-of-seven series. (This year—barring the unforeseen—it will be Detroit against Boston in one, Montreal against New York in the other.) The winners then meet in a final four-out-of-seven duel for the cup—a battered trophy which represents the real professional hockey title.
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March 18, 1957

And Now The Stanley Cup

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The team that is in first place when the National Hockey League season ends on March 24 will win a little-known piece of hardware called the Prince of Wales Trophy—but the season will by no means be over. Two days later the league's top four teams will begin three weeks of Stanley Cup playoffs—in which the first-and third-place teams and the second-and fourth-place teams tangle in two best-of-seven series. (This year—barring the unforeseen—it will be Detroit against Boston in one, Montreal against New York in the other.) The winners then meet in a final four-out-of-seven duel for the cup—a battered trophy which represents the real professional hockey title.

Hockey people consider this postscript to the regular season eminently sensible. Club owners appreciate the added gate receipts, players the monetary incentives the league supplies, and fans the rep�chage afforded to teams which fared poorly in the regular season because of slumps or injuries. Fourteen league champions have been upset in Stanley Cup play in the last 30 years, and, due to the cup's prestige, the league title has consequently been reduced to little more than an academic honor.

To predict the eventual winner of the cup melee is to skate on thin ice. Detroit and Montreal should be co-favorites this year. The Red Wings have been rebuilt around their "superstar" wings, Howe and Lindsay (see above). With the help of the league's best defense, the Wings took over first place in January and were still clinging to it with only six games to play, despite a late-season slump coinciding with a final rush by Montreal. The Canadiens, spearheaded by Maurice Richard and Jean Beliveau, have the most powerful scoring machine in the league (three 30-goal players, backed by three 15- to 20-goal men) and a sturdy defense that is also offensively potent and an outstanding goaltender in Jacques Plante. This is virtually the same team which blasted the Wings from their perch atop the league last year and went on to win the Stanley Cup. Against Detroit, the Canadiens have a 6-3-4 record.

Pressing the leaders this year has been a perennial also-ran, Boston. Bruin Coach Milt Schmidt has molded and inspired a group of veterans, castoffs and rookies into a surprisingly well-coordinated outfit which led the league in early months and continues to harry the leaders. They have no superstars, but they do hold a slight season's edge (6-4-3) over their probable first-round opponent, Detroit—and could provide this year's Stanley Cup upset.

The New York Rangers are the little engine that thinks it can. They have huffed and puffed their way past Toronto into fourth place—their boiler stoked with pure fight by Coach Phil Watson. They have the league's weakest defense and comparatively poor scoring—except as provided by Andy Bathgate. Beaten regularly by Detroit and Montreal, the Rangers hope to meet Boston, over whom they hold a 7-4-1 season's edge, in the opening round of cup play.

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