The 4-3 openers have been digested and Tuesday night the New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers hope for more palatable fare in Round 2 of the Stanley Cup semi-finals.
In Montreal, Islander coach Al Arbour called for more emphasis on forechecking as his club tried to forget that vanished 3-1 lead in Saturday's loss to the powerful Canadians.
Here at the Spectrum, Flyers' coach Fred Shero renewed faith in his policy of pressuring Boston's four-man defensie corp. a tactic that eventually disposed of Toronto in the quarter finals. It almost proved successful Sunday, too, as the weary Bruins dissipated a 3-0 advantage before prevailing on Rick Middleton's overtime goal.
Goaltender Bernie Parent, who knocked the decisive puck into his own net to horrify Spectrum fans watching their first-ever overtime defeat, was a no-show at today's practice. Word was passed that he had experienced a tenderness in his foot, of undetermined origin.
"I don't know what's the matter," Shero said. "It could be anything with a goalie. He wasn't feeling well in the third period last nigth, either. He could be nervous, I don't know. A 30-year-old guy can be nervous."
Parent, 32, the hero Philadelphia's 1974 and 1975 Stanley Cup triumphs, underwent back surgery last year and played sparingly. Beaten in the opening semi-finals game by Boston, he asked to be replaced and Wayne Stephenson won four in a row before Montreal overpowered the Flyers in the final.
Two weeks ago, Stephenson again replaced Parent, after 40 minutes of a second straight loss to Toronto, and the fans booed Parent unmercifully. Stephenson again won four straight in relief but Sunday night, with the Flyers trailing, 3-0 Parent returned at the start of the third period.
Shakey throughout, he faced only four shots in 23 minutes and broke his stick even before No. 1. In the extra period, Parent mishandled Middleton's rountine shot, allowed it to slide behind. Then, reaching back in panic, he poked the puck across while it lay on the goal line.
Matt DiPaolo, the Flyers' physical therapist, checked the tender foot today and noticed no abnormality. He arranged for further tests. But another Flyer official wondered if Parent, a team man, was not once again easing the club's problems.
A year ago, Parent had asked for relief, alleviating a difficult situation. Perhaps this time, aware that he was fighting the puck, Parent was choosing another path to inactivity, permitting the sharper Stephenson an unimpeded role.
Shero indicated that he would "go with Stephenson regardless.I'd want to see him (Paretn) working out before I'd use him. I'll ask (personnel director) Marcel (Pelletier) to watch him and see if he thinks he's challenging the shot. If he's not, and he's backing in, then I'd be hesitant about using him."
The Flyers held their usual unusual workout today, with defenders holding their sticks by the blade and players skating the width of the ice, ropes tied to their waists, in pulley arrangement. There was plenty of swearing physical contact, and camaraderic.
"This is a togetherness group," said defenseman Bob Dailey, who had scored at least one point in every playoff game.
Meanwhile, the weary Bruins held a lightly atttended optional workout, and Shero confirmed his plan to try to wear down their defense.
"That's got to be their weak point," Shero said. "They've got to be tired using only four defensemen while we go with six."
Boston coach Don Cherry admitted his players were dragging, but he said, "Who are you talking about when you say he's using everybody and I'm not? He's got a Don Saleski on his fourth line. And who's his fifth defenseman? Tom Bladon? I've got a kid from Rochester who weighs 160 pounds. It's easy to say you should use everybody when you've got guys like Billy has."
Cherry was displaying the strain of an almost interminable season that began in August with his role as assistant coach for Team Canada. Popping an antacid tablet into his mouth, he said. "Since the playoffs have started, Rolaid's stock has gone up. I've lost a lot of hair this year, too. I really did.
"If we'd lost that game last night, we'd really be down. But beating the Flyers at home in the first game doesn't mean anything. We did it last year and Toronto did it too. You don't have homers anymore. And that's healthy for hockey, isn't it?"
Visiting teams have won 17 of 32 playoff games, with the Flyers dropping three of four at the Spectrum. That's healthy for hockey, but it doesn't help the digestion of fans unaccustomed to such results. It can be tough on local heres, too. Ask Bernie Parent.