From Dynasty to Legend
The road to the fourth Stanley Cup was bumpy indeed. The regular season was marred by injuries and sluggish play: Bryan Trottier and Mike Bossy went through long goal-scoring droughts, and Bill Smith went seven weeks without a victory. The result was a 96-point season, placing the Isles a distant second to Philadelphia in their division and tying New York for sixth place overall in the NHL.
With statistics like that, many expected the Islanders' championship reign to end. Even if they made it back to the finals, how could the they hope to keep up with a team of young guns like the Edmonton Oilers, especially when the Isles' 302 goals placed them 16th out of 21 teams in offensive production?
As the saying goes, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. The Islanders were surely wounded during the 1982-83 campaign, but they were far from dead. Their strength -- and their hunger for greatness -- only increased as the playoffs wore on.
The first playoff opponent to fall was Washington, which finished only two points behind the Isles in the regular season but fell three games to one. Then came the Rangers, who put up their typically strong post-season fight but were denied in six games. In the semifinals, it was the regular-season champion Boston Bruins who were swept aside in six.
But the finals held the mighty Oilers in store. This was a team that had scored an unprecedented 424 goals in the regular season and was 11-1 in the playoffs. A team that had Wayne Gretzky, scorer of 83 goals in 92 games. A team that boasted the likes of Mark Messier, Glenn Anderson and Jarri Kurri, each of whom easily broke the 40-goal and 100-point marks during the regular season, and Paul Coffey, who accounted for 96 points. To make matters worse, Bossy had to be scratched from game one of the finals because of illness.
With the deck stacked against them, the Islanders rode an early Duane Sutter goal and the stellar goaltending of playoff MVP Smith to a 2-0 first-game win. The next three games weren't nearly as close as the Isles swept to a fourth consecutive Stanley Cup. Along the way, they held Gretzky without a goal, limited the high-powered Edmonton offense to a mere six tallies, and trailed for only six minutes during the entire series.
The Oilers' time would soon come, but not in 1983. That was the year the Islanders got off the mat and answered the bell like true champions.
Regular Season Record: 42 wins, 26 losses, 12 ties, 96 points, second place in the Patrick Division amd sixth overall.
Playoff Record: 15-5
Leading Goal Scorer, Regular Season: Mike Bossy (60)
Leading Goal Scorer, Playoffs: Mike Bossy (17, most in 1983 playoffs.)
Assists Leader, Regular Season: Mike Bossy (58)
Assists Leader, Playoffs: Bob Bourne (20)
Points Leader, Regular Season: Mike Bossy (118)
Points Leader, Playoffs: Bob Bourne (28)
There's more to see; check out the buttons and links at the top of the page.