How The Montreal Canadiens Beat The Odds (& Won Their Third Stanley Cup)

The Montreal Canadiens have won 24 Stanley Cups since their founding in 1909. They’ve gone on to become one of the most successful franchises, not just in hockey, but in professional sports. Today we look back at one of their earliest Stanley Cup wins, because on this day April 3 1930 The Canadiens defeated the Boston Bruins, to win their third Stanley Cup and in doing so would shock the hockey world.

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By the 1920-30 NHL Season, the league had grown to 10 teams, with two divisions. The American Division, and Canadian Division. With teams being divided up by their respective home countries, with the exception of the New York Americans who for reasons of divisional balance played in the Canadian division. The season consisted of 44 games, and six of the ten teams qualified for the playoffs.

NHL 1929 - 1930 Season

The Boston Bruins were the defending champions heading into the finals. With 38 wins, 5 losses, and one tie. They accumulated a winning percentage of point 875, which set the record for the best winning percentage in NHL history in a single season. A record that still stands today. During the regular season, the Canadians had lost all four matchups against the Bruins. So going into the finals, Boston was easily favored to win the championship. However, as we know, things turned out much differently. 

Before the start of the season the NHL instituted new rules to try and stimulate more scoring. They would for the first time, allow forward passing in all three zones. And what they’d hope for paid off big time, because every NHL team managed to score over 100 goals that season. Even the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates, nope not those pirates, yeah those pirates they managed to just get over the mark, with 102 goals. 

NHL Playoffs 1929 - 1930

The Canadiens themselves, actually doubled their scoring from the previous season. Going from 72 total goals to 142. However, the Bruins scored the most goals that season with 179, while also allowing the fewest goals scored against them. As the playoffs started the Canadians faced off against the Chicago Blackhawks in the quarterfinals, and defeated them after two games with better goal total of 3-2. During the Semifinals, Montreal played the New York Rangers and swept them in two games in a best of three series.

The Canadians took advantage of unusually poor play by the Bruins during game one of the Stanley Cup finals. George Hainsworth, The Canadien’s goalie held a shutout against the Bruins. While the teams captain, Slyvio Mantha scored goals in both games of the finals. Game two played at the Montreal forum, was decided by Howie Morenz goal during the second period which put the Canadiens up 4-3 over the Bruins. The Canadiens would sweep the Bruins in a best of three series, resulting in a huge upset and criticism over the short playoff format.

Montreal Canadiens - Howie Morenz
Howie Morenz

The Bruins had not lost back to back games the entire season, until the Finals. But after being swept by the Canadians, the NHL moved to change the finals format to a best of five games instead of three. The Canadiens had five wins, zero losses, and one tie during their run of the playoffs that year, making them one of the few teams to go undefeated throughout their playoff run in NHL history.

There were also some interesting oddities about the Stanley Cup engraving. One of the Canadians board of Directors, Georges Richer was mistakenly named as a team physician. Another mistake on the cup, was the co-owner of the team Louis A Letourneau had his name spelled wrong. It was instead engraved H.A. Letourneau. 

So that’s how the Canadiens beat the odds to win their third Stanley Cup, what did you think about the Canadiens sweeping the Bruins in only two games? Do you prefer shorter playoff series such as a best of three, or longer, like a best of seven that we have today? Let me know in the comments below!


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