- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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The next day the NHL gave its annual Stanley Cup luncheon, at which one could break bread with Sather and Islander G. M. Bill Torrey and get a glimpse of the acrimony that exists between these teams. "It's genuine," said Torrey.
Upset at being given a choice of 9 a.m. or 2 p.m. for practice while the Oilers kept the 10 a.m. prime-time slot for themselves, Torrey said to the 1,315 guests, "I'd like to thank you people for the tremendous hospitality, the warm weather [it was cool and drizzly], the early practice and the friendly greeting we got at the Coliseum Tuesday night. We're just having one hell of a time."
After which Sather, next up at the whine and dine, moved to the podium and, with considerably more bite in his tone, said, "I'd like to welcome you all to this gala affair to listen to the New York Islanders moan and groan about ice time. Last year on Long Island we practiced at nine in the morning and didn't complain about that. I recall it was also raining and we didn't complain about that, either. We put up with the weather, the rain and 'Gretzky sucks' from the crowd. At least in Edmonton all the fans chanted was, 'We want Billy.' "
Let's win one for the Gripers.
In Game 4 Thursday night, they got Billy, and they got him good—again. First it was Gretzky, breaking his drought with a first-period breakaway on which he easily faked out Smith and slid home a backhander. "Without question it's the most relieved I've ever been," he said later. "I just wanted to get to the net fast so I didn't have to think about it." Gretzky scored the last goal of the game on another breakaway as the Oilers won by 7-2 again. The Edmonton defense distinguished itself after a rash of first-period penalties, killing 48 seconds of a two-man New York advantage and 3:05 of a one-man advantage without giving up a shot on goal. This was also the game in which McClelland led all Oilers with 18 shots—one on goal and the other 17 (all lefts) on Duane Sutter's head in a second-period fight.
"We're not working. You can be blind as a bat and see that," said Torrey after the game. Earlier in the week he had puzzled over the ebbs and flows of Islander intensity. "I don't know why they get this way. It's nothing that is mimeographed and handed out from the general manager's office."
"We have too many passengers," said Arbour. And New York assistant coach Lorne Henning, when asked if some of the players seemed to feel that four Cups were enough, hesitated for several seconds before smiling grimly. "Maybe," he said.
The Islanders' most notable disappearing act was that of Mike Bossy, who had scored 51 goals in the regular season. The Boss was held without a goal for the series and without so much as a shot in the last two games, in which he played dispiritedly.
"I come off the ice at the end of my shift and I'm tired but I haven't touched the puck," he said at practice on Friday afternoon, apparently as confused as anyone by his slump.
The Islanders were also hampered by injuries to defensemen Dave Langevin (shoulder), Stefan Persson (shoulder) and Bob Nystrom (knee), all of whom missed some games and played ineffectively in others. Bob Bourne, one of last season's playoff heroes, didn't play at all after he strained his left knee against Montreal.