The Bruins took the first game on a last-minute goal by Orr. But the Flyers ended their Boston Garden jinx in Game 2 when Clarke scored in overtime to even the series. "We're outplayed, but mostly we're outhustled," said Boston coach Bep Guidolin afterward. "They're hungry, really hungry. It looks like they've got an extra man out there all the time."
Sound familiar? It's the same way the Flyers play today. After Philly won Game 3 in the Spectrum to take the series lead, the Bruins began publicly questioning their own work ethic. "The only thing they're beating us with is second and third effort," said Guidolin. Then, miffed when only 10 of his Bruins showed up at an optional practice, while the whole Flyers team skated at theirs, Guidolin added, "I'm happy to see Philly here and my team at the racetrack today. Wait until your guys get rich."
Harry Sinden, general manager of the Bruins, addressed the same subject when he warned, "Wait and see, if they win this thing, how they are in a couple of years."
The Flyers won Game 4, then returned to Boston Garden and were crushed 5-1 in the dirtiest game of the series. Five fights, a butt-ending, a spearing and a kneeing spattered the scoresheet. Officials whistled a record 43 penalties against both teams, including 24 on the Flyers, for another record; both marks have since been broken. "This is terrible," moaned the Bruins' Terry. O'Reilly, who was hardly a saint himself during his own penalty-checkered career. "This is turning into Roller Derby."
The Flyers pulled out all the stops for Game 6 at the Spectrum, including inviting Kate Smith to sing God Bless America
in person for only the second time in their history. In games preceded by the playing of that song, Philadelphia's record was 35-3-1. And Kate came through again, with a little help from Parent, who made a first-period goal by MacLeish stand up. The Flyers' 1-0 victory also had the added significance of being the Bruins' first shutout loss of the year. " Orr worked like hell," said Shero, "but it was 17 against one. I had 17 good men. I've been around long enough to know. This team may never be duplicated. They gave you all you asked for, and if you wanted more, they came up with it some way."
Esposito, who had led the league in scoring for four straight years—his regular-season totals had been 68 goals and 77 assists—produced only two goals and an assist in the series. Worse, he consistently lost key face-offs to Clarke during the vaunted Bruin power play, which converted only three of its 34 chances. Overall, Boston scored just 13 goals in its six games against Parent, the playoff MVP. Said a dejected Espo, "Maybe they outworked us."
They outworked us. No one ever said, "Those doggone Flyers sure have a bunch of world-class hockey players." Even when they won the Cup again in 1975, and finished with a club-record 118 points in 1976, or went those 35 games without a loss in 1979-80—no one ever said that. Which may be why Harry Sinden's prediction never came true: The Flyers never got bigheaded and lazy from success, as his Bruins had. It was the Flyers' hard work, toughness and leadership that got the accolades. Never their talent.
All of this was reinforced in 1977 when Ashbee, who had become a Flyers assistant coach, died of leukemia. His No. 4 became the first number to be retired and hung from the rafters. Ashbee, who saw the world in black and white and accepted no excuses.
You can't understand today's Flyers without understanding their roots. This is a club which, after just 20 years, has a firm sense of its own traditions. The Flyers foster the Flyer mystique. There is serious talk of building a Flyer Hall of Fame adjacent to the Spectrum, of putting the faces of great former Flyers on the locker room walls, the way the Montreal Canadiens have done with their heroes. A memorial to the late Kate Smith—career record of 58-9-2 and counting—was to be dedicated outside the Spectrum on Oct. 8.
Fourteen members of Philadelphia's two championship teams still live in the area, and most have succeeded in their posthockey pursuits. "They're still workers," says Allen, with a hint of a father's pride. "We welcome them to come around the dressing room, to skate with the team in practice if they want. It helps our young guys to have retired players come back and speak highly of the organization."