Islanders Find Killer Instinct

New York Islander Fan Central | 5/06/2008 10:40:00 PM |
New York Post
May 6, 1981

Islanders Find Killer Instinct
By Mark Everson

There are no skeletons left in the Islanders' closet. In the process
of cleaning up on the rangers, the Islanders also found something
that every team searches for . . . the killer instinct.

"These were among the four best games we've ever put together," John
Tonelli said of the supersweep of the rangers that was topped by
Tuesday's 5-2 victory at the Garden. "Look back at last year. We were
up three games on Buffalo and couldn't kill them. They won two games.
The same thing with Boston, we couldn't finish them off either.
That's what we were mainly thinking about. We had to establish that
finishing touch." That touch was more like a knockout punch. Tonelli
put the Islanders ahead only 1:02 into the game, Mike Bossy followed
with two power-lay goals, Butch Goring made it 4-0 on a shorthanded
score and it was time to bring on Minnesota.

"This is the best series we've played since I've been with the team,"
Bossy said. "But if we falter now, we'll hate ourselves all summer.
We'll feel as if we let ourselves down. There's a lot of work ahead
of us yet."

"They deserve all the credit they're getting now," GM Bill Torrey
said. "Collectively as a team, they've worked their butts off since
March, or the trading deadline. Some of them have felt slighted that
they haven't gotten the recognition they felt they deserved, but
that's been a motivation as well.

The Isles were given the day off yesterday by coach Al Arbour, but are
itching to get back on the ice and finish what they've started. "I
love having the day off, but I just want to get on with it now," Bob
Bourne said. "We're so close now, let's start playing."

During the season the North Stars weren't too troublesome for the
Islanders. The Isles were 2-0-2 against them, winning 2-1 in
Bloomington Nov. 17 (one of the most exciting games of the season),
and 4-1 Feb. 23. Both games, though, at the Coliseum were
disheartening ties -- 6-6, Nov. 11, when the Isles blew a 5-1 lead,
and 5-5 Feb. 7, when they lost a 5-0 lead.

"This is going to be a lot different than the final last year against
Philly," Bourne said. "I know Minnesota's a really good skating team,
probably the best skating team in the league."

The Islanders expect this final to be a little different than last
year's in other ways, too. "I think this one is going to be more
enjoyable if we win," Bourne said. "Last year, every game was like
the fear of the unknown. We were so bloody relieved when it was over.
It was like a tension release. I'm enjoying it a hell of a lot more
this year."

Perhaps that's because the Isles are not only establishing themselves
as the champs, but as the giants of the league.