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Flyers ride Snow’s ‘big’ shoulders

May 6, 1997

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ The goalie in the caricature had freakishly huge shoulder pads _ just like the ones the Buffalo Sabres claim Philadelphia Flyers goalie Garth Snow is wearing.

``That’s what it is, a joke,″ said the artist, Flyers winger Daniel Lacroix, whose locker room drawings have entertained his teammates all season.

The Flyers _ and maybe even Buffalo coach Ted Nolan _ were having some fun Tuesday with Nolan’s assertion that Snow’s shoulder pads violate the spirit, if not the letter, of the law.

``I gave you guys something to talk about,″ Nolan said with a smile.

Snow’s ``big″ shoulders have helped the Flyers take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-7 playoff series that continues Wednesday with Game 3 in Philadelphia.

A backup most of the season, Snow has blossomed in the playoffs after replacing the slumping Ron Hextall. A large part of the reason why the Flyers were able to eliminate Pittsburgh in five games, he is following up with a similar effort against the Sabres.

``He’s played well,″ Nolan said after the Sabres’ optional practice at the CoreStates Center. ``That’s what wins for you in the playoffs. We’ve just got to find a way to get it by him.″

Easier said than done. Snow is 6-foot-4, 200 pounds. Elevate him on skates, and equip him with the usual assortment of goalie pads and he becomes a very imposing obstacle for shooters trying to beat him.

``When I’m playing well, I’m not even moving,″ Snow said. ``The puck is just hitting me and I’m on my angles. It almost looks like I’m nonchalant out there.″

It almost looks like he’s cheating, according to Nolan, who complained before Philadelphia’s 2-1 victory in Game 2 Monday that Snow’s shoulder pads violated NHL rules.

The NHL took the complaint seriously enough to have league official Jim Gregory examine the pads before the game, but Gregory allowed Snow to use them in Game 2.

The league has limitations on the size and width of the goalie’s leg pads, blocker pads and catching glove, but no laws governing the size of the chest protector and shoulder pads.

The rule book says a goalie ``must not wear any garment or use any contrivance which would give him undue assistance in keeping goal.″

Nolan, who said it looked like Snow had blocks of wood on top of his shoulders, insisted Tuesday that something’s fishy with Snow’s pads.

``There’s a couple of occasions where I thought the puck was going in and it hit and it didn’t deflect up, it stopped,″ Nolan said. ``So obviously, there’s something.″

Snow smiled when he heard of Nolan’s complaints. He said he’s worn the same pair of shoulder pads all season long, made by a company that supplies a number of NHL goalies.

``It’s a joke. Everybody else is wearing them,″ he said. ``I’m 6-4 and I think it just looks a little bit bigger on me than on other guys. Maybe they’re just trying to get in my head.″

Actually, they have. Snow said he’s gotten added confidence from the fact that now, in the minds of Sabre shooters, he’s become bigger than life.

``They’re so worried about me that they can’t see the net,″ he said. ``I know that when they’re coming down, they don’t have any net to see.″

For Sabres fans, Snow’s standout play serves as a reminder that they don’t have their No. 1 goalie, probable NHL MVP Dominik Hasek, who will sit out the final game of his three-game suspension for roughing up a reporter.

Hasek, who is recovering from a knee sprain, skated with the Sabres Tuesday, but said his knee was still a little stiff. He wouldn’t say whether he would be ready to play in Game 4 Friday.

``He looks pretty good to me,″ Nolan said. ``He’s still got a little soreness but he’s much better.″

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