It has been apparent for some time that the Philadelphia Flyers have no faith in Darren Jensen as a backup goaltender to their No. 1 man, Bob Froese. In fact, there are some doubts about Froese's ability to handle the playoff pressure, considering his 0-3 record in postseason play.

For weeks, the man rumored to be heading for Philadelphia was New Jersey veteran Chico Resch. And regularly, at least once a week, the Devils' general manager, Max McNab, denied he had ever been contacted by the Flyers.

So yesterday, as the NHL trading deadline wound down at noon, Resch was peddled to Philadelphia. The price, unless there are future considerations based on Resch's performance, could hardly have been cheaper -- a third-round draft pick.

With the Devils so desperate for personnel to make them competitive, it is almost beyond belief that they could let Resch go to a team in the same division without getting at least a front-line player in exchange. Certainly, Resch proved in beating the Flyers Saturday that he has some big games left despite his age, 37.

The Washington Capitals need a rugged left wing who can score goals. So when the New York Islanders dealt John Tonelli to Calgary yesterday for Steve Konroyd and Richard Kromm, no doubt some Washington fans wondered whether General Manager David Poile had made an effort to land the most valuable player of the 1984 Canada Cup.

"I don't think you'll see any deals among the Islanders, Flyers and Capitals," Poile said. "When you figure to play each other in the playoffs, I just don't think it's realistic to take a chance on something that would help the other guy out."

It was no surprise that Tonelli was moved, although New York General Manager Bill Torrey may have included an unofficial proviso in the terms precluding the Flames from sending Tonelli to a Patrick Division club in the foreseeable future.

Tonelli was running around to little purpose in the weekend series against the Capitals and, after being benched for a game in Minnesota March 1, he reacted bitterly, saying, "I don't want to talk about it. Ask Coach Al Arbour . He's got all the answers."

Tonelli had missed most of training camp while holding out for a new contract and had struggled much of the season. When he was traded, he had only 20 goals and 41 assists, compared with 42-58 a year ago.

Tonelli was a member of all four of the Islanders' Stanley Cup championship teams. So was defenseman Stefan Persson, dispatched to Winnipeg yesterday for an eighth-round draft choice.

The Capitals received the youngest -- John Barrett at 27 -- and the oldest -- Greg Smith at 30 -- of the five players dealt away by Detroit in the last two days.

The Red Wings obviously felt that Barrett, Smith, Reed Larson (29), Ron Duguay (28) and Dwight Foster (28) were not going to turn things around.

In Darren Veitch (25) and Doug Shedden (24), who was acquired from Pittsburgh for Duguay, they added younger players with considerable experience. Dave Donnelly (24), who was obtained for Foster, is more of an unknown quantity, although Washington fans know him better than most. One of Donnelly's nine NHL goals gave Boston an important 3-2 victory at Capital Centre a year ago.

Veitch and Shedden must overcome the disappointment of missing out on playoff competition with rising clubs in Washington and Pittsburgh, but considering the state of the Norris Division, it would not take much to lift the Red Wings into contention next year.

Veitch's value is enhanced by some research carried out by Virginia reporter Steve Novak, who concluded that Veitch last season had the Capitals' best plus-minus rating in important situations.

Taking into consideration only goals scored when a team moved in front by one or two goals, closed within one or tied a game, Veitch had a plus-22 rating, five ahead of runner-up Dave Christian. Counting goals of that type only in the third period, Veitch again led by five, with plus-14 to Gaetan Duchesne's plus-9.

Mike McEwen, a former Capital who started the season with Detroit, was traded yesterday by the New York Rangers for Hartford Whalers right wing Bobby Crawford. In 45 games with the Red Wings and Rangers, McEwen had two goals, 15 assists and 24 penalty minutes. Crawford had 14 goals and 20 assists for the Whalers.

Center David Jensen, whose left knee still is not 100 percent after that difficult surgery almost a month ago, played his best game of the season for the Capitals' Binghamton farm team Saturday as he had three assists in a 3-2 victory over St. Catharines. Sunday, Jensen scored a goal with 13 seconds left to tie Hershey, but the Bears won in overtime to end Binghamton's five-game winning streak.

Bruce Shoebottom, Binghamton's penalty leader with 250 minutes, has been cutting down on the rough stuff lately. Shoebottom, obtained by Poile in an early-season trade with Los Angeles for Bryan Erickson, said, "I don't want to be stereotyped as a fighter."