Drought dimmed by depth

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 1:29 PM ET


 About the last thing Ken Hitchcock worried about as the Philadelphia Flyers prepared for last night's Game 3 was the lack of production from Mark Recchi and John LeClair.

 The prized pair has provided just three points in eight playoff games, but Hitchcock has the luxury of coaching a deep club. The Flyers had won six of seven post-season games, despite the Recchi/LeClair drought heading into last night.

 "You never know who your heroes are going to be and you never know where your goals are going to come from," Hitchcock said. "I think it's one of the reasons we have been really competitive. We've had 12 different goal-scorers."

 Recchi led the Flyers with 26 goals during the season and LeClair was third in team scoring with 23, but only Recchi had scored in the playoffs entering Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semi-final.

 No matter. The line of Alexei Zhamnov, who might be playing the best hockey of his 12-year NHL career, between Jeremy Roenick and Tony Amonte had combined for 23 points.

 "This is the deepest club I have been a part of, period, in terms of any team in any year of my career," said Roenick, one of a few Flyers who chose not to take part in an optional morning skate yesterday. "We have four lines that can play this game and we have three lines that could probably be the first line on any other team."

 It's not just the forwards who have been getting it done. The defence, without Eric Desjardins and Kim Johnsson, was just fine, thanks. Hitchcock considers those two his top two defencemen.

 Imagine what creek the Maple Leafs would be up if Brian Leetch and Bryan McCabe were injured.

 Hitchcock coached the Dallas Stars to a Stanley Cup in 1999, but feels this edition of the Flyers is more experienced than that successful group, which included Ed Belfour, Joe Nieuwendyk and Brett Hull. It's one reason Recchi and LeClair are seen as being more than just points men.

 "They have played really well," Hitchcock said. "They build and create momentum for our team. Their cycle game and their ability to hem good players in their own zone for extended periods of time builds a lot of momentum for us."


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