One of the keys for the Soviets in the 1972 Summit Series was surviving the 1st period of game one. The team was nervous and Canada, while nowhere near their peak shape, were expected to come out like gangbusters.
"And that's exactly what happened," said Yuri Blinov, reminiscing about Canada's quick 2-0 lead in the game. "By the middle of the first period the Canadians slowed down very noticeably. After Zimin scored our first goal we found our game and, slowly increasing the tempo, achieved success."
Indeed they did. They humiliated Canada 7-3 in that first game. They went on to be Canada's equal throughout the series. Often they were the better team.
Yuri Blinov, a star left winger, only got into 5 games, scoring 2 goals and 1 assist for 3 points. It was his goal at the 3:34 mark of the third period in game number five that sparked a Soviet 5 goal third period to comeback from a 3-0 deficit and win 5-4.
However the Soviets weren't overly impressed with the enigmatic Blinov's play, as illustrated by Vladimir Dvortsov's editorial comment for the Tass Agency:
"Against the Canadians our players had to play over their heads, otherwise they were over-matched. Some did not play to their potential. One was Yuri Blinov."
Blinov was quick to credit Canadian defensemen, in particular Gary Bergman.
"It was uncanny. Gary Bergman was always between me and their net. He seemed to know all of my moves. I had the feeling we had played a hundred games against each other before
By the end of the 1972 Summit Series everyone knew just how impressive and explosive the Soviets' top line was, with Boris Mikhailov and Vladimir Petrov setting up the flashy Valeri Kharlamov.
But few recognized or remembered Blinov, who at one point prior to the showdown with the Canadians was to be the scoring star on that line instead of Kharlamov.
Blinov got off to a terrific start in his career while playing with Mikhailov and Petrov. Blinov impressed with his speed and heavy wrist shot. However the Blinov experiment soon ended and coach Tarasov returned Kharlamov to the line.
Blinov never really found his game on any other line, and quickly disappeared from the national team scene, and even the Red Army team.