It is doubly cruel that the Flyers must survive without Kerr this particular year because NHL officials have adopted a more literal interpretation of the rule book. The 225-pound Kerr, whose habit was to simply drop anchor on the doorstep of the opponent's goalie and punch in rebounds, would undoubtedly have been a beneficiary of the increased number of restraining fouls—holding, interference—that are being called.
Meanwhile, as teams like Chicago and Calgary grow fat on special teams goals, the Flyers' power play recently went 0-48. And so it was left for second-year man Craig Berube—best known for his tag-team exploits with Brown—to pot the game-winner against Buffalo last week, his first NHL point.
"See," said Keenan, smiling after that game. "If we were still in a tailspin, we would have found a way to lose."
In Quebec, Keenan saw good things all around:
?Pelle Eklund scored on a garbage goal, up close and in heavy traffic—unheard of for the forward who had seemed all but allergic to contact. Eklund, whose five goals in two games ravaged the Canadiens in the Wales Conference semifinals last season, had scored only one goal in 20 games this season. "It was just a different Pelle Eklund that showed up in camp," said a baffled Clarke.
?Sinisalo, another huge disappointment, scored on a between-the-legs circus shot—just the kind of play that can snap a man out of a slump.
?And it was none other than the points-starved Howe who put the game out of reach with a wrist shot while the Flyers were shorthanded.
Meanwhile, by losing to the Islanders on the same night, the Rangers bumped Philadelphia out of the Patrick Division cellar. Leaving Le Colis�e, the Flyers walked into the frigid Quebec night and onto the team bus. They had no games scheduled for the next five days but were not bound for home. Instead the team was off to Lake Placid, N.Y., for a four-day hockey retreat. "Kind of a mini-camp," said Clarke.
"This will be a circling of the wagons," said assistant coach E.J. McGuire, "allowing the team to eliminate distractions—social invitations, wives, children—and lick this thing once and for all." Training camp a bust? Well, no problem. The Flyers will do it over until they get it right. Nick and the Nice Guys were not scheduled to appear.