Dryden Had Tough Time Against Soviets

Ken Dryden was the top goalie of the 1970s. The highly intellectual Dryden appeared as if from nowhere in 1971 just in time to magically carry the Montreal Canadiens to the Stanley Cup - the first of 6 championships in 8 years in the National Hockey League. 258 NHL wins vs. only 57 losses and 5 Vezina trophy wins ensured his status as the best goalie of that decade and perhaps of all time.

However Dryden seemed to struggle against international competition, namely the Soviets. Phil Esposito once called a Ken Dryden a "damn octopus" because of his hulking size and quick arms and legs. For much of the series Dryden looked like a fish on land. He was clearly outplayed by Tretiak and at times his partner Tony Esposito. 

Dryden had the unfortunate task of playing game one against the Soviets. His goaltending style was to cut down the angles by challenging the shooter and making the most of his immense size. But the Soviets used their cute offense consisting of sudden criss-crossing passes and shifty movement to make Dryden move around and lose his angles, and thus make him look silly at times. Backup Tony Esposito benefited from his bird's eye view on the bench to notice this and he was able to make adjustments to his game when he got the call in games 2 and 3, and stayed further back in his net and avoided challenging the shooter.

"I have been very fortunate to have played on six Stanley Cup winning teams in Montreal," wrote Dryden in Brian McFarlane's book Team Canada 1972: Where Are They Now. "But nothing in hockey ever brought me so low or took me so high. And nothing meant so much."

In an interview with the Globe and Mail in 1997, the always philosophical Dryden looked back upon the series saying that  "a feeling comes before a thought comes. The feeling is a mixture of pain, satisfaction and mostly relief. And in retrospect, a sense of gratitude of having had that as an experience."

Although he is one of the NHL's all time greats, Dryden is also known as a best selling author. His book "The Game" is a legendary hockey book, but it was not his first published effort. Face-Off At The Summit - a 1973 book published by Little Brown - is an interesting look at the series through the eyes of one of the key competitors.

1972 Summit Series.com Player Profile
 Team Canada
 #29 -  Ken Dryden - Goaltender

Position: G
Catches: Left
Height: 6-4
Weight: 205
Born: 8/8/1947 Hamilton, Ontario
1972 NHL Team: Montreal Canadiens

Summit Series Statistics

4 2 2 0 4.75 0 .838

Other Team Canada Appearances

Dryden was one of the few players to have previous international experience amongst 1972 players. He debuted with the Canadian team in the 1969 world championships and spent the 1969-70 season with the Canadian National Team.

NHL Career Notes - The dominant goalie of the 1970s and one the greatest NHL puck stoppers of all time, Dryden backstopped the Montreal Canadiens to six Stanley Cups in just eight seasons played. He won or shared the Vezina trophy five times, as well as six All Star nods and the Calder and Smythe trophies.

Career NHL Statistics
Regular Season 397 258 57 74 2.24
NHL Playoffs  112 80 32 - 2.40


Book Feature
Read Ken Dryden's memories of the Summit Series in Team Canada 1972: Where Are They Now?  By Brian McFarlane $21.26 Cdn


Special Offers

1972 Summit Series Games

Game One
Game Two
Game Three
Game Four
Game Five
Game Six
Game Seven
Game Eight

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Canada's Team of the Century