1979 SC semi-finals; Ny Rangers vs. NY Islanders - how big an upset?
Okay, the # 5 team beating the #1 team (regular season standings) should probably not be regarded as an huge upset. However, even with my limited knowledge/understanding of NHL history, I've always considered the outcome of this series very surprising.
I can see that the Islanders were still missing some important components from their Dynasty team: Butch Goring, Swedes Kallur and Jonsson, the Sutters, Ken Morrow etc.
However, they did finish #1 in the 1978-79 regular season standings, posting a rather brilliant record of 51-15-14. Most of the key guys for their later success were already there (Potvin, Trio Grande, Billy Smith, Tonelli, Nystrom, Bourne...). Even though the Islanders had lost a few games to the Rangers that season, they had won the last two pretty easily (both by a score of 5-2). And on paper, IMO their biggest guns were far more scary than the aging Phil Esposito, Anders Hedberg, Pat Hickey, Ulf Nilsson, Ron Duguay etc. for the Rangers. But was it the experience that was the key factor here ('schooling the kids')?
The question maybe should be; how did the Rangers manage to win the series that clearly? I mean, they outshot the Islanders in almost every game (in some games by a considerable margin), and most importantly, they managed to contain Bossy (scored only 1 goal/point in those 6 games [!]), Trottier and Gillies almost totally. What was the checking line that the Ny Rangers used against them? Potvin did not score too many points in the series either.
So Stan Fischler was the Isles colour man? No wonder he's been all in for that team over the years! He was atrocious giving commentary.
I wonder if Davidson had any eyesight issues, as he lost two longshots on the short side.Same thing happened to him in the finals vs Montreal. I sure noticed how often the Isles turned it over in the Rangers zone.
It was a pretty big upset. The Islanders were on the verge of what everyone thought was a dynasty. This was one of those playoff upsets that labelled them as chokers much like 1978 against Toronto. That label really didn't evaporate until they won in 1980.