The Boston Bruins again led the way during the regular season, accumulating 119 points to fall just 2 points shy of the record they'd set the previous season. The New York Rangers were only 10 points behind them in the East Division, while the Chicago Blackhawks won the West Division easily, finishing 21 points ahead of the Minnesota North Stars.
The Bruins had the league's top two scorers, Phil Esposito and Bobby Orr, and the Rangers' 'Goal-A-Game' line of Jean Ratelle, Vic Hadfield, and Rod Gilbert ranked 3-4-5. Although they'd won the Stanley Cup the previous season, the Canadiens fired coach Al McNeil and replaced him with Scotty Bowman. They finished just 1 point back of the Rangers in the East.
The Rangers eliminated the Canadiens in six games and then swept the Blackhawks to get into the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since 1960. Meanwhile, the Bruins beat the Maple Leafs in five games and swept the St. Louis Blues.
It was the first time the top two regular-season teams had met in the Stanley Cup finals since 1960. Boston quickly took command of the series by winning two games at home and taking the fourth game at New York to go up, 3-1. With a chance to win it all at home, though, the Bruins lost, 3-2, and the series returned to Madison Square Garden for Game 6.
Bobby Orr took charge of that game, scoring at 11:18 of the first period to give the Bruins a lead they never relinquished. Boston won, 3-0, for their second Stanley Cup championship in three years and Orr became the first player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy twice.