Gordie Howe finished the season within the ten leading NHL point scorers for an all time record of 21 consecutive seasons.
For the third straight season, the St. Louis Blues easily won the West Division, being the only team in the division to have a winning record.
The East Division, however, saw a temporary changing of the guard, as Montreal dropped from first the previous season to fifth, missing the playoffs on the total goals scored tie-breaker with the New York Rangers. This led to an unusual incident where in their final game and down 5–2 to Chicago, the Canadiens would make the playoffs if they scored three more goals regardless of the game's outcome. Coach Claude Ruel pulled his goaltender with nearly nine minutes left in the third period in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to do so. Chicago would score five times into the empty Montreal net, to win 10–2. It would be the only season Montreal failed to make the playoffs between 1948 and 1995 and set up the only playoffs in NHL history (as of 2007) to feature no Canadian teams. These developments were instrumental in the decision to move Chicago to the West Division in conjunction with the 1970 expansion, and the adoption of "crossover" playoff series between East and West Division teams the following season. The continuing imbalance led to the exclusion of West Division teams from the Stanley Cup final for the next three seasons.
The New York Rangers were in first place for a time, but injuries on the blueline doomed any hope of a first place finish. The Rangers obtained Tim Horton in desperation.
The Bruins and the Black Hawks both tied for the lead in the East with 99 points, but Chicago was awarded first place because they had more wins. It was Chicago's second first-place finish in Black Hawk history (the first being 1966–67)
|Chicago Black Hawks||76||45||22||9||99||250||170||901|
|Detroit Red Wings||76||40||21||15||95||246||199||907|
|New York Rangers||76||38||22||16||92||246||189||853|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||76||29||34||13||71||222||242||898|
|St. Louis Blues||76||37||27||12||86||224||179||876|
|Minnesota North Stars||76||19||35||22||60||224||257||1008|
|Los Angeles Kings||76||14||52||10||38||168||290||969|
|Bobby Orr||Boston Bruins||76||33||87||120|
|Phil Esposito||Boston Bruins||76||43||56||99|
|Stan Mikita||Chicago Black Hawks||76||39||47||86|
|Phil Goyette||St. Louis Blues||72||29||49||78|
|Walt Tkaczuk||New York Rangers||76||27||50||77|
|Jean Ratelle||New York Rangers||75||32||42||74|
|Red Berenson||St. Louis Blues||67||33||39||72|
|J.P. Parise||Minnesota North Stars||74||24||48||72|
|Gordie Howe||Detroit Red Wings||76||31||40||71|
|Frank Mahovlich||Detroit Red Wings||74||38||32||70|
In the Chicago-Detroit series, the Black Hawks swept the series, ironically, all four games by 4–2 scores.
In the West Division playoffs, the St.Louis Blues ousted the Minnesota North Stars in six games. The Blues won the first two games at the St. Louis Arena. Game three at the Metropolitan Sports Center featured Gump Worsley's sharp goaltending and Bill Goldsworthy scoring two goals in a 4–2 win for the North Stars. Cesare Maniago played in goal for Minnesota in game four and picked up a 4–0 shutout, tying the series. Game five at St. Louis Arena was tied 3–3 when St Louis scored three goals in the third period by Red Berenson, Terry Gray and Jim Roberts and the Blues won 6–3. In game six, Ab McDonald scored two goals as the Blues eliminated the North Stars by a score of 4–2.
In the Pittsburgh-Oakland series, in game one, Nick Harbaruk's goal midway through the third period was the winner as Pittsburgh won 2–1. In game two, Gary Jarrett gave Oakland a 1–0 lead, but Pittsburgh came back to win 3–1. Game three at Oakland featured a hat trick by Ken Schinkel of the Penguins as Pittsburgh won 5–2. Game four featured Oakland having 1–0 and 2–1 leads, but the Seals just couldn't hold on and the game was tied 2–2 at the end of regulation time. Overtime was necessary and Michel Briere scored the series winning goal at 8:28 of overtime for Pittsburgh.
In the East Division finals, Boston surprisingly beat Chicago in four straight games.
In the West Division finals, the St. Louis Blues beat the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games.
The Stanley Cup final would then be Boston vs. St. Louis.
Boston Bruins vs. St. Louis Blues
|May 3||Boston Bruins||6||St. Louis Blues||1|
|May 5||Boston Bruins||6||St. Louis Blues||2|
|May 7||St. Louis Blues||1||Boston Bruins||4|
|May 10||St. Louis Blues||3||Boston Bruins||4||OT|
Phil Esposito of the Bruins led all playoff scorers with 13 goals and 14 assists for 27 points, at the time a new NHL playoff record, followed by Orr with 20 points and Johnny Bucyk of the Bruins with 19 points. Gerry Cheevers of the Bruins led all goaltenders with twelve wins, while Jacques Plante of the Blues led all goaltenders in goals against average in the playoffs with 1.48.
|Prince of Wales Trophy:||Chicago Black Hawks|
|Clarence S. Campbell Bowl:||St. Louis Blues|
|Art Ross Memorial Trophy:||Bobby Orr|
|Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy:||Pit Martin|
|Calder Memorial Trophy:||Tony Esposito|
|Conn Smythe Trophy:||Bobby Orr|
|Hart Memorial Trophy:||Bobby Orr|
|James Norris Memorial Trophy:||Bobby Orr|
|Lady Byng Memorial Trophy:||Phil Goyette|
|NHL Plus/Minus Award:||Bobby Orr|
|Vezina Trophy:||Tony Esposito|
|Lester Patrick Trophy:||Edward W. Shore, James C. V. Hendy|
|First Team||Position||Second Team|
|Tony Esposito, Chicago Black Hawks||G||Ed Giacomin, New York Rangers|
|Bobby Orr, Boston Bruins||D||Carl Brewer, Detroit Red Wings|
|Brad Park, New York Rangers||D||Jacques Laperriere, Montreal Canadiens|
|Phil Esposito, Boston Bruins||C||Stan Mikita, Chicago Black Hawks|
|Gordie Howe, Detroit Red Wings||RW||John McKenzie, Boston Bruins|
|Bobby Hull, Chicago Black Hawks||LW||Frank Mahovlich, Detroit Red Wings|