5/6/08

Isles' Symphony Of Supremacy

New York Islander Fan Central | 5/06/2008 10:30:00 PM
New York Post
May 6, 1981

Isles' Symphony Of Supremacy
By Larry Brooks

They were Eight Days of Excellence. A symphony of hockey supremacy. A
study in methodical destruction. And when it was over, when the
carnage had finally be stopped by the fourth, final buzzer, the
Islanders could hardly believe it themselves.

The Battle for New York ended in the minimum 240 minutes, the rout so
total that barely a moment of drama or competitiveness can now be
recalled as the Islanders destroyed the rangers, their imagined sense
of superiority, and their imagined psychological upper hand over the
Stanley Cup champions. Never again will the Islanders be forced to
bow their heads at the mention of Madison Square Garden.

But still, despite some restrained admission that this series did
carry with it some extra satisfaction because of the six-game
semifinal defeat to the rangers two seasons ago, and the reputation
to which that upset loss gave birth, the Islanders were far more
impressed with the measure of their achievement -- four straight, one-
sided victories -- than with the face of the opponent they had so
badly humbled.

"We were great. We were great. We were great at everything," Bryan
Trottier, wonder in his voice, a helpless grin spreading across his
face, said well after the 5-2 final had been etched in the book. "It
was almost as if we couldn't help ourselves. It was incredible."

Trottier's voice grew more excited as he spoke. "I mean, you'd think
one of our players would have one bad game," he continued. "but no.
Smitty . . . our defense . . .the forwards. Damn! And that's what
makes it so great, that everybody was so great."

The Islanders won this series by an aggregate 22-8 margin. They
grabbed command in the second period of the first game, faltered a
bit in the first period of the next night, and never faced
competition after that. The rangers led for 31:15, were even for
41:59, and trailed for two hours, 46 minutes and 46 seconds. Or, as
Bob Bourne, one of nine Islanders who lived through that failure two
seasons ago, said: "It wasn't only a sweep; it wasn't even really a
contest. It was the best series this team has ever played."

It was the series of a lifetime. A relentless physical attack that
left most of the rangers battered and beaten specimens. Denis Potvin
had the best Stanley Cup series of his career, playing stricter
defense -- clearing the crease, taking care of business at home --
than he had ever before. And his team was relentless, never pausing
for a moment in their pursuit of the puck . . . or the ranger body in
the way of the puck.

There was Mike Bossy throwing a thunderous check on Barry Beck in the
second game, and then, last night, inserting himself into a third
period fray between Trottier and Dean Talafous. Bossy scored twice
last night, giving him give goals in the four-game series, 13 in 13
games in the playoffs, 23 in his last 29 Cup games, 81 goals for the
season overall, a record. This is the guy who couldn't score in the
big games.

"Now that it's over, it's especially nice to have scored so many goals
against the rangers," said Bossy, who scored once in the semis two
seasons ago. "Then (in 1979), I was young, I took everything the
wrong way. I'm two years older now. I did score and we did win. But
it wasn't beating the rangers that makes this so special. It's
beating a team that was playing well not only in four straight, but
four straight convincing games. I don't think we could play better
hockey."

For the rangers, there was absolute disappointment. And a failure to
match the Islanders' grand success. Yes, they were beaten by the best
team in hockey, but their failure to win a game, their failure to play
competitively in their own building was a stunning shock to every
member of the team. Their two-goal, second-period rally after falling
behind 4-0 in the same period, provided their fans with crumbs. Beck
was on ice for nine Islander even-strength goals, and none for his
own team. Ulf Nilsson, who came into the series with eight goals and
seven assists, left with eight goals and eight assists. Ron Duguay,
who came into the series with eight goals and seven assists, left
with eight goals and nine assists. If not one Islander played badly,
not one ranger played well. They tried. That is the most that can be
said of them. The Islanders would not allow them any more than that.

The victory may well be the Islanders' most famous, even greater than
the Cup victory it accomplished last season. It gives them the
championship of New York. But in the wake of this triumph, they even
wondered just what that was worth. "If we own New York, that doesn't
mean that much to me," said Bourne, who did, nevertheless admit
feeling a special kinship with the Islanders who had lost two years
ago. "What means something to us, is excellence, and the fact we
achieved it."

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