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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Isles 40 in 40 -- #34

Isles 40 in 40 -- #34

In honor of the Isles 40th anniversary year, I've put together a list of the Top 40 moments in club history.  I'll go through them throughout the season, bit by bit.

May, 1982-- Bossy leads the Isles to 3rd Stanley Cup

In some ways, it almost doesn't seem fair.  For many NHL franchises, winning a Stanley Cup would have to be in the top three or four moments in their history.  However, I've pushed this championship down the line quite a bit, because quite frankly, by the time the Isles faced the Canucks for the 1982 Championship, the result seemed pre-determined.

The Isles enjoyed a monumental regular season, highlighted by a 15-game winning streak and another 1st place overall finish.  After the playoff scare with the Penguins (you'll certainly be seeing that moment later on), the Isles banished the Rangers in six games and then whitewashed the Nordiques in four.

The Canucks on the other hand finished the regular season 30-33-17. Their coach, Harry Neale, was suspended for 10 games with just six games to play in the regular season.  Roger Neilson stepped in and went 5-0-1 to finish the season but the Canucks still finished 34 points behind the first place Oilers, and with 41 fewer points than the Islanders -- the widest spread in Stanley Cup final history.  With Neilson behind the bench, Vancouver eliminated Calgary, Los Angeles and Chicago to reach the first final in their history.

The Canucks actually had a chance to win game one when Jim Nill gave the underdogs a 5-4 lead in the third period at 13:06 of the third period.

However, it was then that Mike Bossy, with some help from Harold Snepsts, took over. 

First, Bossy tied the game at 15:44 after Snepsts collided with "King Richard" Brodeur (the answer to the impossible trivia question: who started in goal for the Isles in Kenny Morrow's first NHL game).

Then, some 5 years before the Easter Epic, what could be known as the Mother's Day Mistake (as the clock had just ticked into the early morning hours of Sunday, May 9th) occurred.

With time running out in the first overtime, for some inexplicable reason, Snepsts decided to play the puck out of the corner.  The rest is history (as Bob Cole described from coast to coast on Hockey Night):

The goal gave the Islanders game 1 at 19:58 of overtime.  It remains the latest goal scored in an overtime period in NHL history.

The Isles would win game 2 on Long Island, 6-4, with a 3-goal third period.

Billy Smith would blank the Canucks in game 3, and by that time there was no doubt who would raise Lord Stanley's hardware.  It was in this game that Bossy would score one of the more spectacular goals of his career - the one that you see in all the highlight reels of his career.   Jim Robson is at the mic for Hockey Night.

The Isles would go to sweep the Canucks, winning game #4, 3-1.  Bossy had two more goals in that game (his 16th and 17th of the post-season), both on the power play, including the Cup winner and won the Conn Smythe Trophy.  The two goals gave him 7 in the series, tying Jean Beliveau's modern-day (post-WWII) finals record (Gretzky would score 7 three years later, as well)

The Newsday headline on Monday morning May 17th proclaimed "Now They're a Dynasty".  Yes they were.

So why is this Dynasty-clinching ranked so low in my list?  I credit Larry Brooks.  Yes, that Larry Brooks.  You see, Larry covered that series for the New York Post and wrote the series preview.  After comparing both teams, Larry concluded (and I'm paraphrasing...but it's real close),  "The only real question here is whether Brodeur can steal a game.  Prediction: No.  A Sweep".

And he was absolutely right.

The List to Date:
#34 -- May, 1982-- Bossy leads the Isles to 3rd Stanley Cup
#35 -- January 6,1981 --With Bossy Chasing 50, Tonelli Lights Up the Leafs
#36 -- January 18, 1973 -- Expansion Isles Beat the Champs
#37 -- November 28, 1979 -- Billy Smith is credited with a goal
#38 -- December 23, 1978 -- Trottier re-writes the record book
#39 -- February 11, 2011 -- Isles pound Pens 9-3
#40 -- Summer 2001 -- Isles hire Laviolette, trade for Peca and Yashin, claim Osgood.
March 16, 2010 -- Tavares' 5-point game.
February 13, 2011 -- Grab-Trick. 
March 31, 1990 -- Uwe, Uwe. 

Like any of these lists, my #2 may be your #20...
Forever1940 is the nom de plume of Eric Hornick, statistician on Islander home telecasts since 1982. Visit my blog: NYISkinny.com and follow me on Twitter @ehornick

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