The Whalers, who finished first in the Adams Division while taking the fewest penalties in the NHL's regular season, will be a game away from playoff elimination when they visit fourth-place Quebec tonight, in large part because they have already set a playoff record for penalties.
The Flyers, who held that record, need only to beat the New York Rangers tonight at Madison Square Garden to clinch their series, in large part because they abandoned their usual slam-bang style for straight hockey to beat the Rangers Tuesday night.
"We've just got to cease getting penalties," Hartford Coach Jack Evans said after the Nordiques took a 3-2 lead in their series by beating the Whalers, 7-5, Tuesday night.
As for the Flyers, who finished 24 points ahead of the Rangers in the regular season but have had their usual playoff trouble with New York, it was was simply a case of reverting to straight hockey. It worked--the Flyers won, 3-1, to take a 3-2 lead in their series.
"We had already played them four times, so there is no point in trying to establish anything by fighting," said Rick Tocchet, who has led Philadelphia in penalty minutes the last three years.
Ten of the 16 first-round teams remain alive.
In addition to the Ranger-Flyer and Whaler-Nordique contests, other games tonight include Washington, leading, 3-2, at the New York Islanders; Calgary, trailing, 3-2, at Winnipeg, and St. Louis, also trailing, 3-2, at Toronto.