Carson was still serving his penalty when defenseman Brad Marsh carried the puck into the Islander zone less than a minute later. Marsh pulled up at the top of the left face-off circle and unleashed a slap shot that probably would have sailed wide of the net had Hrudey not deflected it into his own goal with the handle of his stick. "Whoever gets the bang-bang type of goals, the fluky goals, will win," Hrudey had predicted before the seventh game. He was right.
"They just overwhelmed us," said Bossy. "They came out playing a couple of notches above us, and we weren't ready for it. Being down 3-0, having given up two goals on your own power play—I guess it was a little too much for us to handle." Ilkka Sinisalo added two third-period goals to cement the 5-1 win for the Flyers.
In the Norris final the Red Wings looked like dead things until they outdid the Islanders and stormed back from a 3-1 deficit to win the series. Only two teams in NHL history—the Islanders in 1975 and against Washington in the opening round of this year's playoffs, and the Maple Leafs in 1942—had overcome such a deficit.
The series turned in Detroit's favor five minutes before the warmups for Game 5 when Demers told right wing Joey Kocur that his job for the remainder of the series was to shadow Toronto's young leader, Wendel Clark. "Aww-right!" was Kocur's reaction. "I didn't want to tell him too early, or he'd have gone crazy worrying about it," said Demers. "We treated Clark like a superstar because he is one."
It was a stroke of near genius. Until then Kocur had been known as a goon. His 653 penalty minutes in his first two full NHL seasons and a right hand that had open cuts on eight knuckles attested to Kocur's proficiency as a fighter. But unbeknownst to many, he can also play hockey. In 1983-84 he scored 40 goals in the juniors for the Saskatoon Blades, while Clark, his teammate that season, had only 23. Furthermore, Kocur and Clark are cousins through marriage—"aunts marrying aunts, or something," says Kocur—and fast friends back in the farming hamlet (pop. 1,000) of Kelvington, Saskatchewan, where they have known each other since Kocur was five years old and Clark was three. Kocur's father, a welder, repairs machinery for Clark's father, a grain farmer. They, too, are best friends.
"I never had brothers," says Kocur. "Wendel has always been like a brother to me."
Clark, who is only 20 and who has scored 71 goals in his first two years in the NHL, had never been shadowed for an entire game. And make no mistake: Clark is the Toronto Maple Leafs. "He's their spark plug; he's their everything," says Kocur. Clark won Game 4 for the Leafs practically single-handedly, scoring twice and setting up the game-winner in the 3-2 overtime win that gave Toronto a three-games-to-one lead in the series. Now he was going to be hounded by his old pal and playmate. Kocur threw him completely off his game. "He's faster than I am," said Kocur. "But I'm clutching and grabbing him all the time, and it's hard to skate when someone is holding your ankles."
If it had been anyone else, Clark probably would have dropped his gloves and leveled his shadow to get himself a little playing room—in Kelvington they are not shy about using their fists. But he wouldn't fight Kocur, and as a result both Clark and the Leafs did a disappearing act. The Wings won 3-0, as goalie Glen Hanlon turned in Detroit's first playoff shutout in 21 years. When an insistent radio reporter asked Clark three times why he wouldn't fight Kocur, Clark finally glowered at the man with the mike and snarled, "Do you want me to fight you?"
Demers stuck with the strategy in Game 6, and the Wings came away with a tight-checking 4-2 victory. The hockey was dreadful—neither team had any sort of transition game nor, for that matter, a .500 record in the regular season—but the teams were at least well matched. And the game-within-a-game was worth the price of admission, as Clark and Kocur often dallied two zones behind the puck, circling like dancers, while play labored on without them, four-on-four. Clark did score once, but it was after a penalty, while Kocur was on the bench. "I'm glad Joey got the opportunity to show he can play like that in this league," said Clark. "There aren't too many guys who can be the toughest guy in the league and play a regular shift."
In Game 7, Kocur again shut down Clark, and Hanlon did the same to the rest of the Maple Leafs as the Red Wings beat Toronto 3-0. When the teams were at even strength in the final three games, Detroit outscored Toronto 10-0. Adam Oates, who had three goals and three assists in the series and was the Red Wings' most effective offensive player, opened the scoring in Game 7 by stuffing his own rebound past goalie Ken Wregget at 2:51 of the first period. Steve Yzerman and Darren Veitch added second-period goals. Hanlon, meanwhile, was outstanding as he turned aside 30 shots.