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The NHL : If It's a Sure Thing, Oiler Fans Turn Out

December 30, 1987|Jerry Crowe

The Edmonton Oilers drew only their third sellout home crowd of the season Monday night.

The attraction was another pasting of the Vancouver Canucks.

The Oilers won, 7-3, to improve their record against Vancouver to 22-0-2 since March 10, 1985, when they last lost to the Canucks. The Canucks haven't won at Edmonton since Dec. 21, 1984.

"Edmonton came out flat," Vancouver Coach Bob McCammon said, "but they did a psych job on us."

A record like that could play tricks with one's mind.

Ron Hextall, the Philadelphia Flyers' heralded goaltender, struggled earlier this season because he was "over-thinking" and "committing himself too quickly," ESPN analyst Bill Clement said.

"The basic premise of tending goal is that you set up the best you can, angle-wise, to protect the goal, and force the shooter to shoot," Clement said. "And then you react to the shooter.

"The shooter, mind you, is coming in saying, 'I want him to react and I'm going to shoot where he isn't.' So, it's a constant standoff.

"And when the goalie starts reacting first, he gets eaten up. And when you're not confident that what you're doing is right, you jump the gun."

And now?

"He's in complete control," Clement said of Hextall, who will bring a 13-game unbeaten streak into tonight's game at Edmonton.

What fate awaits Coach John Brophy, should the Toronto Maple Leafs fail to make the playoffs?

"He'll still be my friend," owner Harold Ballard said, "but I'll miss him."

Add Maple Leafs: Brophy hasn't exactly been easy on the players.

Of defenseman Chris Kotsopoulos, who needed groin surgery and blamed it on being asked to return too soon from an injury, Brophy said: "Mr. Kotsopoulos should have an operation on his tongue. He has got a body that has never done a day's work in its life."

On the fraternization between rival players, Brophy said: "There's too much friendship between teams. Guys are patting each other on the back and holding each other up. I can't relate to it at all. It makes me sick to my stomach."

A few words from Terry Crisp, first-year coach of the Calgary Flames, for purposes of introduction:

"I'm very abrupt. I'm abrasive. I'm bellicose. I'm obnoxious. I will be all over you like a blanket. I will be up and down your frame like an elevator, but please remember one thing: As long as I'm on a player, I care."

Got it.

The Boston Bruins unit of Jay (Silly) Miller, Willi Plett and Billy O'Dwyer is known as "The Silly-Willy-Billy Line."

Michel Bergeron, coach of the New York Rangers, obviously is still irked by the cross-check on the Rangers' Tomas Sandstrom that resulted in a 15-game suspension for Dave Brown of the Philadelphia Flyers.

"Sandstrom is a character player, a tough player, a good player, a proven player," Bergeron said. "What can you say about Brown? Is he a good character? No. Is he a good skater? No. Is he a good shooter? No. What is he doing in hockey?

"I don't know why he uses so much time to tape his stick. It doesn't touch the ice."

Attention Kings: A few weeks ago, the jobs of General Manager Ron Caron and Coach Jacques Martin of the St. Louis Blues were said to be in jeopardy because of the team's poor record.

But board chairman Michael Shanahan said: "We will not panic.

"Everybody is doing the best they can. I'm looking at the longer-term potential of this team. If we live and die with every game, we'll shorten our longevity. We have to take it one step at a time."

Sunday night, the Blues beat the Chicago Blackhawks, 3-2, to move into first place in the Norris Division. They've lost only once in their last 10 games.

Contrary to a wire-service report, the Minnesota North Stars do not plan to keep Dino Ciccarelli out of tonight's game at Chicago, a North Star spokesman said.

It was reported last week that Ciccarelli, who pleaded not guilty recently to charges of indecent exposure, might be scratched tonight because the North Stars were fearful of the reception awaiting him at boisterous Chicago Stadium.

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