- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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Among Trottier's many intangible strengths is a knack for being in the right place at the right time. When he not only started Game 5 but also scored its first goal in a characteristically opportunistic way, a Ken Morrow shot caroming off his skate and into the net, the other Islanders fell into line. Six minutes later, Bossy had a goal called back—he swears it went in—but it hardly mattered. Outshooting the Rangers 43-20, the Islanders rolled 7-2. "We were brutal in the defensive zone, and we were brutal without the puck," said Brooks, ISLANDERS MAKE IT HURT, boomed Newsday.
No one had pained the Rangers more than Bourne, who again contributed three assists and scored on a coast-to-coast dash, during which he eluded three Rangers, slipped the puck between another's skates, retrieved it and flipped it by Mio. "I haven't scored a goal like that since my junior days," he said. "It showed me I haven't lost it."
Earlier this season some were wondering. Bourne, 28, is a frank and talkative former farm boy who grew up just outside Netherhill, Saskatchewan (pop. 55) and in 1972 played baseball with the Class A Covington (Va.) Astros of the Appalachian League. He was platooned at first base with a righthand-hitting slugger named Clark Gillies. This is Bourne's ninth year in the NHL, and he has scored more than 30 goals three times. This season, however, Bourne finished the regular season with just 20 goals. "Bobby was a lot like the team at the beginning of the season," says Torrey. "He couldn't buy a goal and then lost his confidence."
But Bourne has blossomed alongside Dog and Pup, who like to dump the puck into the offensive zone and let Bourne chase it. Bourne is so fast that the defense finds itself cheating toward the net to limit his effectiveness, and that opens up a cavity near the blue line from which the Sutters can let fly. "Brent's so good at anticipating, he takes advantage of that," says Torrey. "And he and Duane crisscross very well." The Sutter-Sutter-Bourne triad accounted for 32 of the Islanders' 71 points in this series. Twelve of them were provided by Bourne, who set a team record for most points in a playoff series.
None of this surprised a woman from Seaford, N.Y. named Barbara Stabiner. She's a soothsayer who's known as The Seer of Seaford. The Islanders are destined to win a fourth consecutive Cup, with Bourne "emerging from the series on the energy level that will carry him to the heights of his career for the next two years," Stabiner told Newsday before the playoffs began. Fact is, The Seer of Seaford has been correct before. She foresaw the Islanders' last three Cups. She correctly predicted seven of the eight first-round playoff winners this year. What's more, she says, she placed Burt and Loni in Splitsville long before the National Enquirer did.
"I see it ending tonight," she said as the series returned to the Garden for Game 6, with Rangers Dave Maloney, Mike Allison, Mike Rogers and the future Mr. Carol Alt (a.k.a. Ron Greschner) all hors de combat. "I was a little cloudy, but now I see it."
The Islanders have never minded facing the Rangers on their home ice. "All of us love playing in the Garden," said Duane Sutter. "The fans there are so...ugly." You need a degree in proctology to understand the epithets some of them hurl at the Islanders. Islander fans are less scatological, but more sarcastic. In both games at the Coliseum they serenaded Ron Duguay, the Ranger forward who spends off-evenings among the Eurolizards at Manhattan discos, with wolf whistles every time he touched the puck. All the Rangers were subjected to chants of "Nineteen forty, nineteen forty," a snide reminder of when they last won the Cup. The players, by comparison, treat one another with Etonian respect.
"I've always liked the Rangers," says Bourne. "I just don't like Ranger fans. I've never seen people so vulgar, like a bunch of animals, in my entire life. To call other human beings what they do.... Maybe I'm naive, but that gets me pumped up."
The Islanders won the finale by finally unleashing their money line of John (Mad Dog) Tonelli, Butch Goring and Bob Nystrom. These three always seem to come up with critical goals in big games. In this case Goring scored to break a 2-2 tie in the final period. "Coming out for the third we had 20 guys fighting to be heroes," said Tonelli, who got the Islanders' first goal and fed Goring for their second and third. "Butch and Bobby Ny and I really wanted to have a big game. We love that kind of pressure."
Torrey had applied pressure of his own. At about the time The Seer of Sea-ford was making her playoff picks—after disposing of Boston, the Islanders will defeat Chicago—Torrey was busy in the Islander locker room, posting and captioning a black-and-white UPI photo of Coach Toe Blake and Marcel Bonin hoisting Montreal's fourth straight Cup. "History is yours for the making," he wrote. While history was once a handicap, it now seems to inspire.