Tony Esposito was supposed to be the backup in this tournament. It is
certainly arguable that "Tony O" was better than Ken Dryden.
The Chicago Blackhawks standout was clearly deserving of inclusion - coming
off of a National Hockey League leading 9 shutouts and 1.77 goals against
average, as well as his third consecutive 30-plus win season.
Tony had the benefit of watching the Soviets from the comfort of the bench in
game one. The Soviets destroyed the overconfident Canadians in that opening game
in Montreal. Goalie Ken Dryden was especially victimized. It was ultimately the
first time most of the Canadian players had seen the Soviets in action,
including goalies Dryden and Esposito. Esposito believes he found success in the
series because he was able to dissect the Soviet attack while on the bench in
game one. And it showed in games two and three when Esposito played well for the
Esposito was very solid in nets in game two, as he allowed only 1 goal as
Team Canada regained its composure in a 4-1 win in Toronto. Game three in
Winnipeg was an equally played game as suggested by the 4-4 final score. Despite
the high score Tony O played well in this game for the most part, but allowed
one weak goal by Yuri Lebedev which cost Canada a precious victory.
Tony O was pulled for game 4 but returned for game 5. With 11 minutes to play
Canada held a 4-1 lead, but ended up losing 5-4. Tony couldn't be blamed for the
victory - in fact he was named as one of the game's stars - but blowing a 3 goal
lead in such a crucial game is inexcusable.
Tony returned for game 7, and won the essential game 4-3 with a 28 save
performance. Tony would call that game his best of the series.
The Canadian coaching staff must have debated long and hard about their
goaltending situation for game 8. Ultimately they went with the man who was
supposed to be the number one guy as Ken Dryden got the nod. Dryden won the