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WAR FOR THE INSCRUTABLE EAST
Mark Mulvoy
April 16, 1973
Surprise followed shock as New York opened Stanley Cup hostilities with defending champion Boston. The "demoralized" Rangers routed the Bruins in Boston and heard sweet music at home
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April 16, 1973

War For The Inscrutable East

Surprise followed shock as New York opened Stanley Cup hostilities with defending champion Boston. The "demoralized" Rangers routed the Bruins in Boston and heard sweet music at home

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Worse yet for the Bruins, Esposito—hockey's highest scorer and a man thought to be indestructible after missing only six games in eight years—was in the hospital and finished until next season. New York Defenseman Ron Harris gave him a hip as he tried to burst through a crowd of Rangers, and Esposito crumpled to the ice holding his right knee. Thirty-six hours later he underwent surgery to repair a ligament.

"It doesn't look very good for us, does it?" Orr asked. No, it did not. Esposito sent his teammates a telegram: GOOD LUCK I KNOW YOU CAN DO IT DON'T FORGET TO COME SEE ME ESPO. Mere whistling in the dark, surely. With two consecutive games coming up in New York, the Rangers obviously were ready to obliterate the Bruins. Some New York fans, in fact, organized a pool on the exact minute the first defeated Bruin would shake hands with a victorious Ranger after the fourth game. "We have them where we've never had them before," the Rangers' Brad Park said. "Now we can't let them go."

In goal Saturday night the Bruins played Eddie Johnston, the man Plante had replaced. A poignant appearance it was, too, because Johnston suspects he is the "player to be named later" by Boston to go to Toronto in the Plante deal. So Eddie was sulky, right? Mad at the world? Nope. Johnston was spectacular. Sanderson replaced Esposito at center and also combined with a marvelous Boston rookie, Greg Sheppard, to disrupt the Ranger power play that had produced four goals in the first two games. Sanderson won eight of nine face-offs in his own zone while killing four straight penalty minutes in the first period, and ultimately Sheppard scored two goals. So the Bruins, down two games to none on their own ice, won 4-2 in enemy country.

Now the Bruins had a chance to tie the series Sunday night and regain their home-ice advantage—or disadvantage, take your choice. New York was weakened by injuries to Hadfield, its top left wing, and Dale Rolfe, its steadiest defenseman. But by executing the Francis Plan to perfection once again the Rangers harassed the Bruins all night and skated off to a 4-0 victory. Eddie Johnston could have used a little help from his friends. For Giacomin it was his first shutout ever in Cup play. As the final minutes ticked away on the Garden clock, the balcony fanatics began to chant a tune not heard in New York since 1940: "Goodby, Boston, we hate to see you go."

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