VOORHEES, N.J. (AP) _ The Philadelphia Flyers used to beat teams with their
size and strength. Now they're doing it with skill and discipline.
The Flyers opened their Eastern Conference semifinals series with a 3-1
victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night. They did it by playing
solid defense, taking few penalties, and capitalizing on their scoring chances.
``As far as them being like the Flyers of old, they are not even close to
being that physically dominating team,'' Toronto coach Pat Quinn said Friday.
``They didn't give up much last night and it was a strong part of their game.''
Gone are the Broad Street Bullies, who used to intimidate opponents with
their fists, hard checks and even some cheap shots. Those Flyers teams,
however, were the last to win the Stanley Cup, with consecutive championships
in 1974 and 1975.
These Flyers have a lineup that blends finesse and power players. It's the
quickest way to success in a league filled with European players who have
changed the way the game is played.
Philadelphia overcame a major obstacle in the first round, finally beating
longtime nemesis New Jersey. The Flyers eliminated the defending Stanley Cup
champion Devils in five games, setting up a playoff rematch with Toronto.
The Flyers beat the Leafs in a grueling first-round matchup last year that
amounted to the equivalent of nine games _ seven games and seven overtimes.
In Game 1, neither team played the same style it did last spring. The Leafs
are even playing a different way than they did the first three times the teams
met in the regular season.
There were few wide-open chances and no odd-man rushes in the series opener.
The teams grinded it out against the boards, concentrating on defense and
limiting their opponents' chances.
``There is no open space,'' Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock said. ``Both teams
are committed to not giving up anything.''
Game 2 is Sunday night in Philadelphia. The Leafs got a much-needed day off
Friday after having one day off between games. Toronto advanced with a victory
over Ottawa in Game 7 on Tuesday night. The Flyers were well-rested, getting
four days off between games.
``We didn't really like the way we played,'' Flyers forward Simon Gagne
said. ``You can't take a rest against this team.''
Hitchcock expects the Leafs to benefit from some rest. He was concerned
about the rest of the series after the Flyers had a difficult time winning the
``They play sound playoff hockey. This is going to be a hard series now,''
Both teams are hoping to get injured players back. Flyers defenseman Kim
Johnsson (hand) sat out Game 1, but could return Sunday night. Leafs captain
Mats Sundin (leg) missed his fourth straight game, and Quinn disputed a report
that he'll play in Game 2.