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Flyers Have Problems but Not With Kings, 7-5

November 20, 1987|JERRY CROWE | Times Staff Writer

PHILADELPHIA — When it was mentioned to him Thursday morning that the Philadelphia Flyers were off to their worst start since the 1969-70 season, Phil Myre was indignant.

"Are we supposed to feel sorry for them?" the Kings' assistant coach asked.

Good point.

The Flyers' 7-5 victory Thursday night before a crowd of 17,306 at the Spectrum was only their third in 15 games, but it was their second over the Kings this month.

The Kings, who have given up 28 goals in four games and have lost their last five road games, made up a 4-2 deficit in the second period but were outscored in the last 20 minutes, 3-1.

And, after cutting the Flyers' lead to 6-5 on Paul Fenton's second goal of the game with 7:48 left, they didn't get another shot on goal.

"We're not playing with a lot of determination," Coach Mike Murphy said of the Kings, whose 5-12-2 record is the worst in the National Hockey League. "We're not playing with a team that seems to want to win. With the exception of seven or eight guys, we're playing with a lot of passengers."

Coupled with Vancouver's 4-1 victory at Detroit, the loss pushed the Kings deeper into the Smythe Division cellar.

And Murphy's postgame comments had a familiar ring to them.

"I think what's happening is the same thing that's happened here for years," he said. "We've got a lot of guys who are impatient with the results when you (body) check. We've got guys who just aren't interested in checking. They're not interested in doing the little things that win hockey games.

"They just want to read their names in the summaries, and until we can change that attitude, we're going to have problems."

The Flyers, who rank last in the league in power-play efficiency, have problems of their own.

Before Thursday night, they had scored fewer goals than any other team in the league, hadn't scored more than five goals in a game this season and were averaging just 2.6 goals a game.

In 12 of their first 20 games, they never led.

Ron Hextall, winner of the Vezina and Conn Smythe trophies last season as the league's top goaltender and playoff MVP, was 2-8-2 with a 3.95 goals-against average since returning to the lineup after serving an eight-game suspension.

Last week, after a 5-2 loss at St. Louis, Coach Mike Keenan said: "We're on the verge of a crisis."

So, the Flyers weren't about to suggest that a win over the Kings, whose defense is the league's most generous, was the answer to their ills.

"We're expected to beat Los Angeles at home," said wing Lindsay Carson, obviously unimpressed. "On the other hand, we scored some goals and we won. That's better than losing."

Carson's goal with 14:35 left broke a 4-4 tie, and the Flyers increased their lead to 6-4 with 9:31 left when Rich Tocchet chased down the puck behind the Kings' net and made a pass in front to Brian Propp, whose uncontested shot into the upper left corner of the net beat King goaltender Rollie Melanson.

Melanson, who faced 43 shots, was in no mood to talk afterward.

"I've got nothing to say, guys," he told two reporters who approached him. "You saw the game. We're brutal."

Fenton's back-handed shot off a drive after taking a pass at the blue line from Bernie Nicholls cut the Kings' deficit to 6-5 with 7:48 left, but the Flyers clamped down defensively after that.

Goaltender Wendell Young, called up Tuesday from Hershey (Pa.) of the American Hockey League to spell Hextall, who had started 12 straight games, didn't face another shot.

Ron Sutter added a final goal with 2:48 left, sliding a shot past a diving Melanson after a goal-mouth scramble.

"There didn't seem to be a lot of interest or a lot of desire to win that game," Murphy said. "We never do the things we need to do when the pressure's on and the game's on the line."

King Notes

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