Game two of the great hockey crusade will be played here Saturday afternoon and the NHL All-Stars may be forced to make some alternations in the strategy that prevaied in game one.
A key to the 4-2 NHL success was the work of the four-man defense corps Coach Scotty Bowman elected to dress. Montreal's Larry Robinson teamed with Toronto's Borje Salming and the Canadiens' Serge Savard worked with Colorado's Barry Beck.
That quartet concentrated on disrupting Soviet rushes and moving the puck up ice, leaving the hitting to the forwards, particularly the New York Islanders' Clark Gillies and Toronto's Lanny McDonald. That way, there was no fear that penalties might overburden the defense.
Saturday, however, is the day Soviet referee Viktor Dombrovski has his day in the spotlight and previous experience with that gentleman has revealed that nobody is ever immune to penalty.
So Bowman probably will add two defensemen to his 20-man playing squad, most likely the Islanders' Denis Potvin, recuperating from a shoulder separation, and Montreal's Guy Lapointe, a last-minute addition after recovering from a viral infection. This would consign Washington's Robert Picard to the stands for the second straight game.
Dombrovski has attended several officiating clinics operated by the NHL and once officiated an exhibition involving the Capitals. He is considered the best Soviet official by far, but like all European officials he does not position himself well.
"He has improved, but he is usually out of position by NHL standards," said Frank Udvari, NHL supervisor of officials. "It is easier to officiate over there, because there is less body contact. Without body contact, a guy can referee until he's 55.
"We don't really know how old Dombrovski is. His age varies from 46 going on 55. He says he's 46 but last year he was 47."
Udvari watched Dombrovski Dec. 30, when the Soviet worked the game between the Minnesota North Stars and the Wings of the Soviet, and said, "I thought he exercised sound judgment, but when I looked to see where he was, he was usually out of position."
A referee in the wrong position is easily influenced by players diving to the ice, whether propelled by a stick or merely seeking a penalty call. The Soviets are skilled at diving techniques, as are some of the NHL players, notably Philadelphia's Bill Barber.
Dombrovski travels with the Soviet entourage and skates with the Soviets at practice. He would be an unusual man, indeed, if he were not somewhat influenced by such a close relationship with the team.
NHL officials have not always been commended for impartiality in these international contests and Lloyd Gilmour, after ignoring numerous Philadelphia muggings in a 1976 victory over the Soviet Army, was quoted afterward as saying, "Well, I guess we showed those guys."
However, there was no complaint with the work Thursday of Bob Myers, who even disallowed an NHL goal. The referee for Sunday's finale will be Andy Van Hellemond, considered the best in the business.