Philadelphia Flyers, decked out in their new cooperalls (introduced this season 81/82, not 82/83 as some claim) came into Edmonton trying to stop Gretzky. But, as the Flyers found out, there was, no one who can stop Wayne Gretzky. Previous 8 games, Gretzky had 14 goals, including 4 against his future team, Los Angeles, in the Oilers' previous game (12/27/81). Gretzky had also scored 4 against LA on November 25st, and 4 against Quebec October 31st. He would score just once against Philly Jan 14th, but 3 more times against them January 31st.
Coming into this game, Gretzky had a remarkable 58 points in his last 17 games.
Season totals for Gretzky: 38GP, 45G, 57A, 102P. Calder Trophy winner Dale Hawerchuck would finish that year with 45 goals and 58 assists.
The Flyers would finish that season 8th overall, and certainly were not a bad team (38-31-11). The Flyers had won 12 of their last 15 games. They still had Bobby Clarke, Bill Barber, Reggie Leach and Jimmy Watson from their mid 70s dynasty, plus they had added Tim Kerr, Ken Linseman, Brian Propp, Ron Flockhart, Ray Allison and Behn Wilson and Paul Holmgren. My favourite all time Flyer, Ilkka Sinisalo, did not play and Darryl Sittler had not been aquired. In goal for the Flyers was another of my favs, regardless of what team he played for, Pete Peeters. This was Pete's first tour of duty with the Flyers (Brian Boucher fans take note, the Flyers LOVE their goaltenders! Peeters had sort of been Bernie Parent's successor in the Flyers goal, after the later suffered a career ending eye injury in 78/79. Peeters had actually done quite well for them, going 29-5-5 in 79/80 with a 2.73 GAA, good enough for 4th in the league. Pete was second in the league in wins that year. He took the Flyers all the way to game 6 of the 1980 Stanley Cup Finals, where the dynasty bound New York Islanders beat them in a great final. Pete was having a bit of an off year this season, 23-18-3 with a GAA of 3.71, but next year, would lead the league for the first of two GAA titles. Pete was a regular in the top 10 in GAA from 79-91.
As for Edmonton, it's rookie Grant Fuhr. At this point, he was still proving he belonged in the NHL. Fuhr's specialty was allowing 4 or 5 goals when the Oilers scored about 7 or 8 goals, but allowing 1 or 2 and the odd time 0 if the Oilers scored 3 or less. You'd get some by him, but never quite that goal you needed for the tie or win.
The Flyers, btw, are coached by Pat Quinn, who goes down in the record book as the winning coach in the Oilers first ever playoff loss two seasons prior, and also helping the Flyers to establish a PROFESSIONAL SPORTS RECORD 36 game unbeaton streak in 79/80. Pretty much everywhere he went, Philly, Vancouver, Toronto, even LA (he seemed to help). He would be replaced later this season by Bob McCammon, however.