1975–76 NHL season

The 1975–76 NHL season was the 59th season of the National Hockey League. The Montreal Canadiens won the Stanley Cup, defeating the defending champion Philadelphia Flyers in the final.

1975–76 NHL season
LeagueNational Hockey League
SportIce hockey
DurationOctober 7, 1975 – May 16, 1976
Number of games80
Number of teams18
Draft
Top draft pickMel Bridgman
Picked byPhiladelphia Flyers
Regular season
Season championsMontreal Canadiens
Season MVPBobby Clarke (Flyers)
Top scorerGuy Lafleur (Canadiens)
Playoffs
Playoffs MVPReggie Leach (Flyers)
Stanley Cup
ChampionsMontreal Canadiens
  Runners-upPhiladelphia Flyers

This season also marked the final time that Hockey Night in Canada on CBC Television in Canada would air radio broadcasts of games, with HNIC moving exclusively to television the next season.

Regular season

The Montreal Canadiens set records in wins with 58 and points with 127, beginning a four-year stretch where they would dominate the league in the regular season and win four straight Stanley Cup titles. The Philadelphia Flyers tied the record set by the 1929–30 Boston Bruins for most consecutive home ice wins, with 20.

During the regular season, between December 28 and January 10, "Super Series '76" took place as two teams from the Soviet Championship League played eight exhibitions against NHL teams. HC CSKA Moscow (the "Red Army Club"), defending Soviet champion, played against the New York Rangers, Montreal, Boston and, on January 11, the defending NHL champion, the Philadelphia Flyers, while Krylya Sovetov Moscow ("the Soviet Wings") played against Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Chicago and the New York Islanders.[1]

The blockbuster trade of the year saw the Boston Bruins send superstar center Phil Esposito and star defenceman Carol Vadnais to the New York Rangers for star center Jean Ratelle and superstar defenceman Brad Park. Both Ratelle and Park would excel for the Bruins for years to come, while Esposito's days as the preeminent scorer in the NHL were behind him.

On February 7, 1976, Darryl Sittler set an NHL record that still stands for most points scored in one game. He recorded ten points (six goals, four assists) against the Boston Bruins.

Final standings

Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, Pts = Points, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against, PIM = Penalties in minutes
Note: Teams that qualified for the playoffs are highlighted in bold

Prince of Wales Conference

Adams Division
  GP W L T GF GA Pts
Boston Bruins80481517313237113
Buffalo Sabres80462113339240105
Toronto Maple Leafs8034311529427683
California Golden Seals8027421125027865

[2]

Norris Division
GP W L T GF GA Pts
Montreal Canadiens80581111337174127
Los Angeles Kings803833926326585
Pittsburgh Penguins8035331233930382
Detroit Red Wings8026441022630062
Washington Capitals8011591022439432

[2]

Clarence Campbell Conference

Patrick Division
GP W L T GF GA Pts
Philadelphia Flyers80511316348209118
New York Islanders80422117297190101
Atlanta Flames8035331226223782
New York Rangers802942926233367

[2]

Smythe Division
GP W L T GF GA Pts
Chicago Black Hawks8032301825426182
Vancouver Canucks8033321527127281
St. Louis Blues8029371424929072
Minnesota North Stars802053719530347
Kansas City Scouts8012561219035136

[2]

Playoffs

Playoff seeds

The twelve teams that qualified for the playoffs are ranked 1–12 based on regular season points.

Note: Only teams that qualified for the playoffs are listed here.

  1. Montreal Canadiens, Norris Division champions, Prince of Wales Conference regular season champions – 127 points
  2. Philadelphia Flyers, Patrick Division champions, Clarence Campbell Conference regular season champions – 118 points
  3. Boston Bruins, Adams Division champions – 113 points
  4. Buffalo Sabres – 105 points
  5. New York Islanders – 101 points
  6. Los Angeles Kings – 85 points
  7. Toronto Maple Leafs – 83 points
  8. Pittsburgh Penguins – 82 points (35 wins, 5 points head-to-head vs. Atlanta)
  9. Atlanta Flames – 82 points (35 wins, 3 points head-to-head vs. Pittsburgh)
  10. Chicago Black Hawks, Smythe Division champions – 82 points (32 wins)
  11. Vancouver Canucks – 81 points
  12. St. Louis Blues – 72 points

Playoff bracket

  Preliminary Round Quarterfinals Semifinals Stanley Cup Finals
                                     
       
  1 Montreal 4  
    8 Chicago 0  
     
       
  1 Montreal 4  
  4 NY Islanders 1  
1 Buffalo 2  
8 St. Louis 1  
  4 Buffalo 2
    5 NY Islanders 4  
2 NY Islanders 2
7 Vancouver 0  
  1 Montreal 4
  2 Philadelphia 0
       
       
  2 Philadelphia 4
    7 Toronto 3  
4 Toronto 2
5 Pittsburgh 1  
  2 Philadelphia 4
  3 Boston 1  
       
       
  3 Boston 4
    6 Los Angeles 3  
3 Los Angeles 2
6 Atlanta 0  
  • Division winners earned a bye to the Quarterfinals
  • Teams were re-seeded based on regular season record after the Preliminary and Quarterfinal rounds

Preliminary Round

(1) Buffalo Sabres vs. (8) St. Louis Blues

The Buffalo Sabres were the first seed of the preliminary round and fourth overall with 105 points. The St. Louis Blues were the eighth seed of the preliminary round and twelfth overall with 72 points. This was the first playoff series between these two teams. The Buffalo Sabres won this year's regular season series earning 5 of 8 points.

Buffalo won series 2–1

(2) New York Islanders vs. (7) Vancouver Canucks

The New York Islanders were the second seed in the preliminary round and fifth overall with 101 points. The Vancouver Canucks were the seventh seed in the preliminary round and eleventh overall with 81 points. This was the first playoff series between these two teams. Vancouver won this year's regular season series earning 8 of 10 points.

New York won series 2–0

(3) Los Angeles Kings vs. (6) Atlanta Flames

The Los Angeles Kings were the third seed of the preliminary round and sixth overall 85 points. The Atlanta Flames were the sixth seed of the preliminary round and ninth overall with 82 points. Atlanta tied with Pittsburgh in points and wins, but Pittsburgh earned 5 points in games against the Flames while Atlanta earned 3 points in games against the Penguins. This was the first playoff meeting between these two teams. Los Angeles won this year's regular season series earning 6 of 8 points.

Los Angeles won series 2–0

(4) Toronto Maple Leafs vs. (5) Pittsburgh Penguins

The Toronto Maple Leafs were the fourth seed in the preliminary round and seventh overall with 83 points. The Pittsburgh Penguins were the fifth seed in the preliminary round and eighth overall with 82 points. The Atlanta Flames tied with Pittsburgh in points and wins, but Pittsburgh earned 5 points in games against the Flames while Atlanta earned 3 points in games against the Penguins. This was the first playoff series between these two teams. Pittsburgh won this year's regular season series earning 8 of 10 points.

Toronto won series 2–1

Quarterfinals

(1) Montreal Canadiens vs. (8) Chicago Black Hawks

The Montreal Canadiens finished first in the league with 127 points. The Chicago Black Hawks finished as the Smythe Division Champions and eighth seed of the quarterfinals with 82 points. This was the seventeenth playoff series between these two teams with Montreal winning eleven of the sixteen previous series. Their most recent meeting came in the 1973 Stanley Cup Finals which Montreal won in 6 games. Montreal won this year's regular season series earning 5 of 8 points.

Montreal won series 4–0

(2) Philadelphia Flyers vs. (7) Toronto Maple Leafs

The Philadelphia Flyers finished as Clarence Campbell Conference regular season champions and second seed overall with 118 points. This was the second playoff series between these two teams. Their only previous meeting came in the 1975 quarterfinals which Philadelphia won in 4 games. Philadelphia won this year's regular season series earning 7 of 8 points.

Philadelphia won series 4–3

(3) Boston Bruins vs. (6) Los Angeles Kings

The Boston Bruins finished as the Adams Division regular season champions and third seed overall with 113 points. This was the first playoff series between these two teams. Boston won this year's regular season series earning 8 of 10 points.

Boston won series 4–3

(4) Buffalo Sabres vs. (5) New York Islanders

This was the first playoff series between these two teams. The teams split this year's four-game regular season series.

New York won series 4–2

Semifinals

(1) Montreal Canadiens vs. (4) New York Islanders

Montreal won series 4–1

(2) Philadelphia Flyers vs. (3) Boston Bruins

Philadelphia won series 4–1

Stanley Cup Finals

The two-time defending Stanley Cup Champions, the Philadelphia Flyers, once again made it to the finals, but were swept in four games by the Montreal Canadiens.

Montreal won series 4–0

Awards

1976 NHL awards
Prince of Wales Trophy:
(Wales Conference regular season champion)
Montreal Canadiens
Clarence S. Campbell Bowl:
(Campbell Conference regular season champion)
Philadelphia Flyers
Art Ross Trophy:
(Top scorer, regular season)
Guy Lafleur, Montreal Canadiens
Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy:
(Perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication)
Rod Gilbert, New York Rangers
Calder Memorial Trophy:
(Top first-year player)
Bryan Trottier, New York Islanders
Conn Smythe Trophy:
(Most valuable player, playoffs)
Reggie Leach, Philadelphia Flyers
Hart Memorial Trophy:
(Most valuable player, regular season)
Bobby Clarke, Philadelphia Flyers
Jack Adams Award:
(Best coach)
Don Cherry, Boston Bruins
James Norris Memorial Trophy:
(Best defenceman)
Denis Potvin, New York Islanders
Lady Byng Memorial Trophy:
(Excellence and sportsmanship)
Jean Ratelle, New York Rangers/Boston Bruins
Lester B. Pearson Award:
(Outstanding player, regular season)
Guy Lafleur, Montreal Canadiens
Vezina Trophy:
(Goaltender(s) of team(s) with best goaltending record)
Ken Dryden, Montreal Canadiens
Lester Patrick Trophy:
(Service to hockey in the U.S.)
Stan Mikita, George A. Leader, Bruce A. Norris

All-Star teams

First Team  Position  Second Team
Ken Dryden, Montreal Canadiens G Glenn Resch, New York Islanders
Denis Potvin, New York Islanders D Borje Salming, Toronto Maple Leafs
Brad Park, Boston Bruins/New York Rangers D Guy Lapointe, Montreal Canadiens
Bobby Clarke, Philadelphia Flyers C Gilbert Perreault, Buffalo Sabres
Guy Lafleur, Montreal Canadiens RW Reggie Leach, Philadelphia Flyers
Bill Barber, Philadelphia Flyers LW Rick Martin, Buffalo Sabres

Player statistics

Scoring leaders

Note: GP = Games played; G = Goals; A = Assists; Pts = Points

Player Team GP G A Pts PIM
Guy LafleurMontreal Canadiens80566912536
Bobby ClarkePhiladelphia Flyers763089119136
Gilbert PerreaultBuffalo Sabres80446911336
Bill BarberPhiladelphia Flyers805062112104
Pierre LarouchePittsburgh Penguins76535811133
Jean RatelleNew York Rangers/Boston Bruins80366910518
Pete MahovlichMontreal Canadiens80347110576
Jean PronovostPittsburgh Penguins80525210424
Darryl SittlerToronto Maple Leafs79415910090
Syl Apps, Jr.Pittsburgh Penguins8032679924

Source: NHL.[3]

Leading goaltenders

Note: GP = Games played; Min – Minutes Played; GA = Goals Against; GAA = Goals Against Average; W = Wins; L = Losses; T = Ties; SO = Shutouts

Player Team GP MIN GA GAA W L T SO
Ken DrydenMontreal Canadiens6235801212.03421088
Chico ReschN.Y. Islanders442546882.07231187
Dan BouchardAtlanta Flames4726711132.54191782
Wayne StephensonPhiladelphia Flyers6638191642.584010131
Billy SmithN.Y. Islanders392254982.61191093
Gilles GilbertBoston Bruins5531231512.90338103
Tony EspositoChicago Black Hawks6840031982.973023134
Rogatien VachonL.A. Kings5130601603.14262055
Wayne ThomasToronto Maple Leafs6436841963.192824122
Gary SimmonsCalifornia Seals4023601313.33151952

Other statistics

Coaches

Patrick Division

Adams Division

Norris Division

Smythe Division

Debuts

The following is a list of players of note who played their first NHL game in 1975–76 (listed with their first team, asterisk(*) marks debut in playoffs):

Last games

The following is a list of players of note that played their last game in the NHL in 1975–76 (listed with their last team):

NOTE: Boudrias finished his major professional career in the World Hockey Association.

See also

References

  • Diamond, Dan, ed. (2000). Total Hockey. Kingston, NY: Total Sports. ISBN 1-892129-85-X.
  • Dinger, Ralph, ed. (2011). The National Hockey League Official Guide & Record Book 2012. Toronto, ON: Dan Diamond & Associates. ISBN 978-1-894801-22-5.
  • Dryden, Steve, ed. (2000). Century of hockey. Toronto, ON: McClelland & Stewart Ltd. ISBN 0-7710-4179-9.
  • Fischler, Stan; Fischler, Shirley; Hughes, Morgan; Romain, Joseph; Duplacey, James (2003). The Hockey Chronicle: Year-by-Year History of the National Hockey League. Lincolnwood, IL: Publications International Inc. ISBN 0-7853-9624-1.
Notes
  1. Super Series site
  2. Dinger, Ralph, ed. (2011). The National Hockey League Official Guide & Record Book 2012. Dan Diamond & Associates. p. 151. ISBN 9781894801225.
  3. Dinger 2011, p. 150.
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