Going for Cup, no shortage of plots Red Wings, Flyers count reasons to take it all

THE BALTIMORE SUN

PHILADELPHIA -- Story lines. Every Stanley Cup Finals has a bunch of them. This matchup between the Philadelphia Flyers and Detroit Red Wings, which begins tonight at CoreStates Center, is no exception: After the New York Rangers ended their drought in 1994, the Red Wings replaced them as the team having gone the longest without a Stanley Cup.

Detroit's last championship team, in 1955, featured Gordie Howe, Alex Delvecchio, Ted Lindsay and Red Kelly.

The Flyers have not won a Cup since 1975, when the Broad Street Bullies took their second straight, led by Bobby Clarke (now their GM), Bill Barber, Reg Leach, Dave Schultz and Bernie Parent.

The future Hall of Fame centers involved both deserve one. Steve Yzerman, 32, has played 14 seasons with the Red Wings, accumulating 1,340 points in 1,023 games. The Flyers' Dale Hawerchuk, 34, has played 16 seasons with four teams, totaling 1,409 points in 1,188 games. In NHL history, only Marcel Dionne had more points (1,771) without a ring.

Flyers goalie Ron Hextall, 33, was bypassed for Garth Snow in 11 of the first 12 playoff games, but Hextall won the last three. What does coach Terry Murray do if Hextall falters? He might alternate them.

"I felt very comfortable, as did the team, with either of our goaltenders," he said.

Red Wings goalie Mike Vernon, 34, led the Calgary Flames to the Cup in 1989. In these playoffs, he was the surprise choice of coach Scotty Bowman to start over Chris Osgood.

In 1995, the Wings' "Russian Five" was criticized for the New Jersey Devils' sweep in the Finals. The group was said to be soft. This year the Wings are 12-0 in the playoffs when any Vyacheslav Kozlov (8-3-11), Igor Larionov (4-8-12), Sergei Fedorov (5-9-14), Vyacheslav Fetisov or Vladimir Konstantinov gets a point.

The Flyers are led by the "Legion of Doom" line: Eric Lindros (11-12-23), John LeClair (7-11-18) and Mikael Renberg (5-5-10) or Dainius Zubrus.

Stanley Cup Finals

(Best of seven)

Philadelphia vs. Detroit

Today -- at Philadelphia, 8 p.m.

Tuesday -- at Philadelphia, 8 p.m.

Thursday -- at Detroit, 8 p.m.

June 7 -- at Detroit, TBA

June 10 -- at Philadelphia, TBA*

June 12 -- at Detroit, TBA*

June 14 -- at Philadelphia, TBA*

* -- If necessary

Pub Date: 5/31/97

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