Headline – There may yet be playoffs
The big story of February 1921 is the Senators’ big losing skid. The Sens entered play on February 12 with a sterling record of 12-3-0, scoring 72 goals combined and conceding just 39. They had clinched the first half of the season, and were on their way to another half win to repeat their domination of 1919-20.
But then something strange happened. Their vaunted offense just kinda stopped scoring, and their stout defense began to show cracks. . Here’s a list of their final six games of the month:
- Loss to Montreal, 1-3
- Loss to Toronto, 3-4
- Loss to Montreal, 1-8
- Loss to Montreal, 1-3
- Loss to Toronto, 2-4
- Loss to Hamilton, 2-6
That’s six games, six losses, and a combined 10 goals for, 28 against. No one missed time to injury, so it was the same guys who won 12 of 15 out there. Maybe it was the competition?
Montreal so far has a second half record of 8-3-0, and are doing it with the same recipe they’ve been using for the last couple of years: An offense led by Newsy Lalonde, who’s scored 21 in those 11 games. Those three late month victories over Ottawa, surrendering just three goals, are big time statement wins by these Habs.
The St. Patricks are nipping at the heels of the Habs, though. With a record of 7-4-0 in that same 11 game span, they’re just two points behind Montreal, and they play each other on the last day of the season. Toronto’s attack is led by a young breakout star named Babe Dye, who’s finally getting regular minutes for the St. Pats. This could end up as a very exciting conclusion to the season.
So who is that guy?
Born Cecil Henry Dye, and given the nickname “Babe” from his love of baseball, Babe Dye quickly rose to stardom for the Toronto St. Pats in 1921. Dye started his young career in the amateur ranks of the Ontario Hockey League with a couple of Toronto teams. His first professional season came with the Toronto St. Pats in 1919-20. At the same time, he was playing minor league baseball for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Dye was loaned to the Hamilton Tigers for one game (Dye is a native of Hamilton), where he scored two goals in the Tigers’ 5-0 win over Montreal. He then returned to the St. Pats and broke out in the 1920-21 season, scoring 32 goals in the 21 games the St. Pats played through February.
Dye isn’t the fleetest skater out there, in fact he’s rather slow. Dye’s ability to put the puck in the net comes from his great stickhandling and a very hard and accurate shot. Few people can match the pace on their wrist shot, and Dye can put it wherever he wants. He’s just 22 years old, so he has a bright future ahead of him.
Game of the Month
2/2 – Tigers 6, Canadiens 5 (OT) – The Tigers and Canadiens entered this game going in two opposite directions to start the second half of the season. The Canadiens won their first two games, and the Tigers lost their first two. This meeting in Hamilton would either prove Montreal to be the favorite for a playoff spot, or get the Tigers back in the race.
Just a few minutes into the game, Thomas McCarthy scored to put the Tigers up early. Newsy Lalonde responded with two late goals in the first period to take the Habs into the intermission with a 2-1 lead. Joe Matte scored just seconds after the second period began, and by the 8:00 mark of the second, McCarthy completed a hat trick to put the Tigers up 4-2.
The Canadiens fought back valiently, though. Didier Pitre and Louis Berlinquette scored a quick back to back later in the second to tie the game at 4-4. Amos Arbour continued the charge by an early third period goal to give Montreal another lead. Later on, after some back and forth, ex-Canadien Billy Coutu tied the game, and necessitating overtime. Overtime was decided by another ex-Canadien just moments into the extra frame, when Joe Malone beat his former teammate Georges Vezina to secure the Tigers’ first second half win.
- Ottawa Senators* (12-9-0, +15 Goal Differential)
Maybe it’s just because they knew they won the first half, they’re taking their foot off the gas? Let’s hope so, because the league is better when the best team isn’t struggling for traction.
- Montreal Canadiens (12-9-0, +10 GD)
- Toronto St. Patricks (12-9-0, +1 GD)
The Habs and St. Pats are seemingly destined for that last meeting of the season to determine who gets the Senators in the NHL Final. Should be an interesting affair, we’ve never seen anything like that before.
- Hamilton Tigers (6-15-0, -26 GD)
Some would call this another failure of a season, some would call this progress. Considering last year? Progress.
*indicates first half champion