Legendary hockey reporter Stan Fischler writes a weekly scrapbook for Fischler, known as "The Hockey Maven," shares his humor and insight with readers each Wednesday.

This week looks back seven decades at one of hockey's finest goalies, when a young Terry Sawchuk credited one save in the 1952 Stanley Cup Playoffs with giving him the confidence to pace the Detroit Red Wings to the first eight-game playoff sweep in NHL history.

After Terry Sawchuk's first full NHL season with the Detroit Red Wings in 1950-51, there was no question about his future stardom. He won the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year and soon would be named to the first of seven NHL First All-Star Teams. His goals-against average was a stunning 1.97.

Former NHL goalie and New York Rangers general manager Emile Francis would later call Sawchuk, "The greatest goalkeeper ever." Said former New Jersey Devils GM Max McNab, who played with Sawchuk in the minors: "Terry was a big, happy puppy dog who eventually turned into the best goalie I ever saw."

Yet, in the spring of 1952, his second season at age 22, Sawchuk still had doubts about his ability even though the Red Wings finished first in the NHL, 26 points ahead of the third-place Toronto Maple Leafs, who had won the Stanley Cup four times in the previous five years.

Still, "sophomore slump" talk had reached Sawchuk's ears. He felt that he had more to prove.

"I knew that the playoffs would be the big test for me," Sawchuk recalled. "Beating Toronto would be huge for us; and it would mean the first chance for me to play for a possible Cup winner. I still felt that I had a lot to prove, like not being just a one-year wonder."

Sawchuk got off to a good start against the Maple Leafs in the opener of the NHL Semifinals at Detroit's Olympia Stadium on March 25, 1952. His game was flawless en route to a 3-0 victory.

"Sawchuk was superb in goal and completely frustrated the Leafs," author Charles L. Coleman wrote in "The Trail of The Stanley Cup."

It was only one game and Sawchuk knew there was more to achieve. Game 2 was, in fact, his supreme confidence-builder. It also was a reason why it remained the game he never forgot, and all because of one remarkable save.

Looking backward, he'd later admit that the save in question had long-lasting ramifications. It inspired him to accomplish a feat never believed possible in League history -- a sweep of all eight playoff games. The remarkable save took place late in Game 2 with the Red Wings leading 1-0 on Johnny Wilson's power-play goal at 15:33 of the first period.

"I badly wanted that shutout," Sawchuk said, "because it would have given me two in a row in the playoffs and that would've been so special. But we got into trouble late in the game and were two men short when things almost got out of hand.

"Knowing we had two men in the penalty box, I figured this was now or never to save the lead. I also felt that if we could weather this storm, we'd take the game. At that moment the goalie's primary focus was on the Leafs creative center Max Bentley, who quarterbacked Toronto's power play."

Herb Ralby, the Boston Globe's veteran hockey writer, recollected the iconic play in a story he wrote in the April 1956 issue of Hockey Pictorial magazine.

"Bentley got the puck," Ralby remembered, "and suddenly the way opened for him to walk in on Terry. Meanwhile, the harassed three Detroit penalty killers tied up three Leafs, but 'Maxie' had Sid Smith, another good scorer, with him."

Said Sawchuk: "I figured Max would try to deke me, so I made up my mind not to move. Bentley faked me then passed across to Smith, who let a shot go. It was really labelled, but I managed to kick in time to stop it with my foot. I had made the save at just the right moment.

"That was Toronto's big threat. Our men got back before they could do any damage and we won 1-0 to take a two-game lead in the series."

That same night, I was driving to Toronto from my Brooklyn home with four buddies. We had tickets for Game 3 at Maple Leaf Gardens and were anxious to see how good Sawchuk really was. Detroit coach Jack Adams didn't have to be told.

"I was so confident that Terry would be great," Adams said, "that after we won the Cup in 1950, I traded my championship goalie Harry Lumley and gambled on

Watching Sawchuk in Game 3, I couldn't find a flaw in his style or ability and the Red Wings easily won 6-2. They completed the sweep three nights later with a 3-1 victory, and now Sawchuk faced a tougher test.

Normally, the first-place team would open the Stanley Cup Final with two home games, but because of a previous commitment, the Montreal Canadiens could play only two of its games at the Montreal Forum. The Red Wings agreed and the remaining five games -- if necessary -- of the best-of-7 series would be played in the Motor City.

When the Final opened in Montreal on April 10, 1952, Sawchuk was facing a loaded squad led by the iconic Maurice "Rocket" Richard and one of the NHL's best two-way defensemen, Doug Harvey.

Once again Sawchuk was stingy. Only defenseman Tom Johnson beat him while the Red Wings waltzed to a 3-1 victory and followed that up with a 2-1 triumph. Detroit was now only two wins away from the first eight-game sweep in NHL playoff history.

"The Red Wings didn't need more than two games at home to wrap up the series," Ralby wrote. "If that were possible, Sawchuk reached a new, even higher level in Detroit, but what put the frosting on Terry's cake was chalking up another pair of 3-0 shutouts in the last two home games."

Sawchuk's denying both Toronto and Montreal of a single goal in Detroit over the two series had never been accomplished before. It was enough to firmly fortify his self-esteem and set him on the road to endless success.

"The four shutouts at home provided me with great confidence," Sawchuk admitted. "It was a combination of those wins as well as winning that first Stanley Cup, but I want to make it clear I didn't do it alone. I couldn't have.

"It definitely was a team effort. The Wings gave me such great protection in those last two games I just had to get those shutouts -- and those top playoff thrills!"

Adams added another kudo on top of the encomiums: "Thanks in large part to Terry Sawchuk, that was the greatest team I ever had!"