Franchise Best: Boston Bruins 1971-72 Season

Phil Esposito
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The Franchise Best Series comes to you to dive into the all-time best single season for every organization. This, of course, includes post-season results. Join us for a look back at some of the most memorable moments in each franchise’s history. Here is the Boston Bruins best season.

The 1971-72 season for the Boston Bruins was and still remains the strongest season the team as seen in their now 94-year history. Numerous players set records and won awards as the league’s top players. The team topped off the year with their second Stanley Cup in three years, and their fifth overall.

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Boston Bruins 1971-72 Season

Rebounding From Last Season

The Bruins owned the National Hockey League in 1970-71 and were put in a great position to win back-to-back titles. After posting a whopping 121 points and a +191 goal differential, the Bruins faced the Montreal Canadiens in the quarterfinals.

In a tough series of back and forth hockey, it was the Habs that advanced following a 4-2 win in Game 7. The series win was one of the biggest upsets in hockey, thanks to Canadiens goaltender Ken Dryden.


The Bruins made four sets of transactions before and during the season, all with the California Golden Seals. Two of the transactions involved the Bruins giving cash to the Golden Seals in return for a player – a move that was a common occurrence at the time.

Regular Season

Cheevers Succeeding in Net

One of the major storylines of the season was when starting goaltender Gerry Cheevers went 32 straight games without suffering a loss – a record that remains unbroken to this day. The closest the record has come to being broken was when the Bruins own Pete Peeters strung together 31 games without a loss in 1983.

Rolling in the Regular Season

The Bruins began the regular season with a loss on their home ice to the New York Rangers on October 10, 1971. From that point, though, they went 15-4-1 in their next 20 games.

When the regular season had concluded, the Bruins had 119 points, which was good enough to earn them the top spot in the East Division and the entire 14-team league. The next-closest team was the Rangers, who had 10 fewer points.



The quarterfinals matchup for Boston was with the Toronto Maple Leafs, who finished fourth in the East. The Bruins won the first game, dropped the second in overtime, and then closed out the Leafs with three consecutive wins to advance.


In a cross-division semifinal round, Boston faced the St. Louis Blues, who the Bruins beat in the Stanley Cup Final two seasons before on Bobby Orr’s famous overtime goal that completed their sweep.

In the semifinals matchup, the Bruins kept up their tradition of not letting the Blues win a game in the series and outscored St. Louis 28-8, including a 10-2 rout in Game 2.

Stanley Cup Final

Their final opponent of the season would be the team they faced, and lost to, in their first game of the season. The Rangers were coming off a sweep of their own over the Chicago Black Hawks (The name was two words until 1986), so both teams had become accustomed to trampling their opponent.

The first game had 11 total goals – six by the Bruins and five by the Rangers. The Bruins carried their success at home into the second game and took a 2-0 series lead with a 2-1 win.

The Rangers finally woke up in the series in the third game and shocked the Bruins, winning Game 3 by a score of 5-2.

Boston answered the three-goal win with a 3-2 win before the Rangers answered with a 3-2 win of their own in Game 5 to extend the series.

In the sixth game, Bobby Orr began the scoring halfway through the first after executing a spin move with the puck to avoid the defender. The move sent a roar of amazement over the Rangers home crowd and would be the eventual Cup-clinching goal.

Wayne Cashman added two insurance goals later in the game to give Boston a 3-0 lead and secure the team’s Cup.

As the clock ran out of time, Orr picked up the puck before parading over with the rest of the team to their stellar goaltender. The Bruins and Rangers shook hands before John “Chief” Bucyk, one of four alternate captains, skated the trophy around Madison Square Garden.

End Results

The season not only brought the Cup back to Boston but resulted in many individual awards for players on the team. Bobby Orr took home the Conn Smyth, Hart Memorial and James Norris Memorial trophies as the playoff MVP, regular season MVP and league’s best defenseman.

Alternate captain Phil Esposito took home the Art Ross Trophy as the league’s top scorer in league-wide. Orr, a defenseman, finished behind Esposito’s 133 points with 117 of his own, taking the top two spots in the league.

With the combination of player’s individual excellence and the team’s main goal of winning the Cup, the Boston Bruins 1971-72 season was their strongest ever.

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