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Stanley Cup Finals : Flyers' Victory Boosts the Confidence They Need Against Oilers

May 24, 1987|JULIE CART | Times Staff Writer

PHILADELPHIA — The dramatic Flyer comeback in Game 3 here Friday night may have done more damage to the Edmonton Oilers than just cutting their lead in the series to 2-1.

The Oilers have been playing at the top of their game, which means almost no team can stop them. With each game they have been gaining confidence, especially goaltender Grant Fuhr.

"Sometimes, it seems as if you can't get anything past him," Flyer forward Peter Zezel said.

The confidence has shifted, however. The Flyers discovered two things Friday night: The Oilers are not invincible, and their own team, hobbled though it may be, is big of heart and pride, and that may be enough.

After the teams had a total of three power plays in Game 1, neither Philadelphia Coach Mike Keenan nor Edmonton Coach Glen Sather spent practice time on special teams.

"Why bother when you only get one a game?" Keenan said.

The number of power plays escalated in Game 2--the Oilers had five and converted one, the Flyers had four and converted none.

Game 3 was a breakthrough, at least for the Flyers. Each team had five power plays. The Oilers converted one and the Flyers converted two. At last.

Sather called the first Flyer power play the turning point of the game.

As the series progresses, the intensity level will escalate. That may bring more penalties, which will render the power play and penalty killing units vital to each team.

"Our power play has been successful for most of the year and in the playoffs it was only a matter of time before we got one," Flyer defenseman Brad Marsh said.

Of course, during the season the Flyers relied almost solely on big Tim Kerr on the power play. Kerr would park in the slot and tip in goal after goal.

Kerr has missed 10 of the Flyers' 22 playoff games with a serious shoulder injury. Still, Kerr holds the lead in playoff power-play goals, with five.

Kerr is expected to be physically capable of playing at least one more game for the Flyers before his shoulder will give out completely. The right winger will require two operations to correct muscular damage around his rotator cuff.

One operation will be needed for the front of the shoulder, and one for the back.

If the Flyers have found a way to revitalize their power play, they could go a long way to compensating for the loss of Kerr.

Hockey Notes Former King coach Pat Quinn, now president and general manager of the Vancouver Canucks, has been given permission by the NHL to resolve the team's coaching situation. Under the terms of an order by NHL President John Ziegler, Quinn is unable to assume his front-office duties with the Canucks until after the league meetings and amateur draft June 13. Quinn had been operating under the assumption he would not be able to talk with Vancouver Coach Tom Watt until then, but the NHL has given him permission to do so. Watt has one year remaining on his contract. . . . It has been 43 years since a team came from three goals behind to win a game in the Stanley Cup Final. The 1944 Canadiens beat Chicago, 5-4, in overtime. The Canadiens won the series, 4-1.

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