Independent from Long Beach, California on March 24, 1976 · Page 24
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Independent from Long Beach, California · Page 24

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Long Beach, California
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Wednesday, March 24, 1976
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Page 24
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C-4-INDEPENDcNT [AM] PRESS-TELEGRAM (PM) Una Beach, cam., wed., mixn». ' Potvin a problem to Kings By Al, LARSON · SUff Writer For the last eight years the Morris Trophy, awarded to the best defenscmon in the National Hockey League, has been the pri- . v a l e possession of Boston's Bobby Orr. Times have changed. The New Y o r k Islanders' D e n i s Potvin is voady to take the trophy away from Orr, who has been sidelined most of the season with knee trouble. Spectators at tonight's match-against the Kings can judge for themselves as Polvin and the Islanders make tlicir first visit to the' Forum since Nov. 13. A crowd of 10,000 is expected for the 8 o'clock faccoff. The game is the first of two at home for the Kings Ihis week. Vancouver provides the opposition Saturday night. To say that Potvin is enjoying a hig year is a s l i g h t understatement. The youngster--he turned 22 earlier this season- l e a d s the Islanders · in scoring wilh 28 goals and 58 assists for 86 points. M a n y observers give Potvin most of the credit for lifting the Islanders from tlic position of one of the worst learns that ever played in the NIIL four years ago to near the top rung in the league. " D e n i s is a lender," s a y s c o a c h Al Arbour. "When he is out there, our guys look to him to set the tempo, control things. He is the key to our team, no doubt. On the power plays . . . killing penalties . . . everything." W i l h second p l a c e behind Philadelphia long ago locked up in the Patrick Division, !hc Long Island- based skaters have the f i f t h best record in the league with 93 points. The Kings have 76 points. The Islanders lead the Kill, in power play goals a n d p e n a l t y k i l l i n g . They've scored 87 power Al not down, just frustrated phin and Tommy John will eel his lirsl slart Friday in St. Petersburg againsl the New DENIS POTVIN Defensive dandy goals in 267 attempts for a 32.6 per cent conversion. This is considerably better than the 2.1.7 percentage mark set by the 1973-74 N.Y. Rangers. The Islanders' penalty killers also have yielded only 45 power goals hi 342- chances for an Sfi.8 per cent stoppage rate. The Islanders also boast the leading candidate for rookie of the year in Bryan Trotticr, -who has broken Marcel Dionne's · record of 78 points his first season. Troltier is the l e a g u e ' s 10th l e a d i n g scorer with 27 goals and 61 assists for 88 points. KINGS NOTES: With seven g a m e s r e m a i n i n g . B u l c h Coring has surpassed his season high wilh 30 goals. Trip biuzsaw eenter has nolclierf six goals and 12 points in the losl eight games. His previous high was 28 goals. His 61 points ties his previous Itc.st oulnul in 197m With 14!) goals, Butch is the Kings' all- time goal scorer. The seven- year velerun also passed WWtcy WMIng as LA S; No. 1 pointiriokcr wllli 334 points lo 331. Bob Berry is Ihird with 308 points. In thr?ir previous meeting nl (he Rnnim. the Kings hem New York 1-3. However, they were blanked in both mutches In New York. 7-0, 6-0. Chlcp Resell hus wrestled UKJ indi- v i d u a l gonttcixling h o p o r s from Montreal's Ken Drydfn wilh his l.!6 goals ognlnst average. Arbour figures hlgli- ly In conch of the yenr balloting. The Kings' Itob Pulforrl won l a s t year. Pittsburgh, which lends UK Kings by ore point In Ihe race for second place and home Ice advantage In the playoffs, hosts Roston tonight. Kings have given up six power goals in last four games. They rank " I2th on power piny conversion and Tlh on penalty killing. Kings havr- been outscorxxl only In first period Ihis season, 75-67. Tlicy Iwlil an 88S1 edge in the m'irt- rtlo period anci iS-77 over lite final ·20-minnte session By GORDON VERHELL Stall Writer VERO BEACH, Fla."Hey, Ace!" Dusty Baker shouted at Al Downing after a crisp workout the o t h e r d a y , "you really look ready." "I should," D o w n i n g replied, "! had a lot of r e s t last summer." He m i g h t h a v e added the s u m m e r b e f o r e and t h e s u m m e r b e f o r e that. DOWNING Since winning 30 games in 1971, Downing has been used less and less ever since, even though there have been some openings in the pitching staff, and now he's wondering about 1976. A n d y Messefsmilh is gone and the Dodgers will be looking for someone to take up the slack. But, so far, the Dodgers haven't indicated t h a t Alphonso Erwin Downing is their 1 man. "We're going to have (o alter things considerably within the pitching staff," the 35-year-old Downing pointed out. "Where we're really going lo miss Andy is the fact that every time he went out there you knew he was going to get you seven or eight good innings. Bui now, it looks like we're going to need long relief help more than any thing else." Yeah, a n d l a s t y e a r t h e r e wasn't a Tommy John, and the year John w a s i n j u r e d h a l f w a y through the season, and the . . . well, anyway, Downing remained w i t h just what he had before the vacancies--a r e l i e f stint now and then and an occasional starting assiyn- nicnl. "It is kind of frustrating," he said. Carson signups Slow p i t c h signups arc under way for tin. 1 Carson Parks-Hecrealion spring-summer play. Thrxu' leagues will be operated wilh the. season's (ce set at $130. Games will 1« Thursday n i g h t s al Si-otl Park. CnnlnclHnlaivl Majehr- 7Jik al W-76W. X-33 for additional Information. Still, he doesn't complain or ask to be traded or cause any commotion. "It's not in my nature to complain," he s o l d . "I think 1 can help this club most as a starter but my feelings are secondary to. the team's winning. Anyway, 1 don't want to go lo anolher club. Who knows, it might be a lot worse .somewhere else. "But," he added, smiling, not knowing why, "it does seem like I go through this every year." For example: · In 1974, Tommy John injured his elbow in July arid didn't pitch the rest of the season. ("We w e n t willi three starters the rest of the season," said Downing, who wasn't one of the three.) · In 1975, still no John. Bui still no Downing, el( h e r . ("They got J u a n Marichal and I understood giving him the first crack at it. fitter all, he was one of the all-time g r e a t s . Starts Thursday. Mnrch 25lh. Restoration work additional if needed. Then they let Rick Rhoden s t a r t and ! understood that, too. But when he didn't cut.it, I figured I'd get a chance.") But he didn't. A fellow by the name of Burt Hooton came In from Chicago, won 18 games and Downing spent the summer doing little more t h a n shagging flyballs be/fore games and warming up occasionally in the Bullpen. "For some reason," he says, "I can't make any mistakes." Realizing this, he's correcting his mistakes. He gave up a single to Bill Buckncr in a squad game the other day--the only hit he gave up in two innings -- a n d then immediately 'picked Buckner off first. "I seriously t h o u g h t about quitting after that '7-i season," he said, "but then I got to thinking. I knew Tommy wasn't coming tack and I knew I could out-pitch anyone else they had. So I forgot about quitting. I figured the Dodgers would want to got off quick In 15 and that they'd go wilh experience." They d i d - f l r s t M a r i - chal and eventually Hooton. "So I worked out all whiter. I'm a lot stronger, not muscle-bound by any means, just stronger," he said, "and I hope I have a good spring and get a chanpe. If not, well, I'll just have to sit down again and evaluate everything." Despite all the frustra- tion, he remains affable, pleasant, smiling, working oul diligently. "But," he said with a grin, "it's starting to affect my personal life a little. You want (o know what one of my friends told me? He said I was getting grouchy." Not G e n t l e m a n Al Downing. York Mcts. . . . In Sunday's televised game (Channel II. 10:30 a . m . ) i t ' l l be R a n against the Mels' Mickey Loll- efi. . . . Mitt Marshall is due . . . . lo arrive late tonight. . Tuesday's workout was short by wind and rain. cut DOPE: Doug ' l e t DODGER _.. Rau, Charlie Hough and Dk_ Stlma are scheduled [o pitch today's exhibition opener in Duyiona Bench against the Montreal Expos. . .-. Don Sul- UQ will slarl Thursday in Vero Beach against Philarlel- I Honesty, Integrity, Quality ( S Savings since IKJ. 66 POINT DYNAMOMETER ENGINE TEST Hove Itils test performed at 10.000 mile intervals. Know Ire anditlcn of vour car, or a car vcu Intend to'buy. This inexpensive tesl could save vcu many SW's. (if vou want, v,e can check yow eniire car: braves. Irar.s., swpenslon, engine, steering, elc. lor SI8.90.) · of A. Maltlf Charge. 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