At the moment, the Flashback Friday series is focusing on the history of the New York Islanders as a team. Their highs, their lows and everything in between. In case you missed the premier and first installment, you can find it here. As we drift further from the history and into the modern era, we will shift the focus to former players/games/incidents of years gone by. This is starting to sound like a University course syllabus so I’m going to stop here and get going with the next installment.
The 1973/1974 season was one of worst in franchise history. Going in with a bleak out look for the 74/75 season, the Islanders managed a stunning turn of events in what turned out to be one of most glorified ones in NHL history. The core of the team was centered around the likes of captain Ed Westfall, Bob Nystrom, Dennis Potvin, Clark Gillies, Billy Smith and “Chico” Resch. With this caliber of talent leading the way, the Islanders finished with 88 points and earned their first playoff berth in franchise history.
As they whipped by their rival New York Rangers in the first round, meeting the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second proved to be a challenge. The Penguins held a three games to none advantage as they progressed into the best of seven series. The Islanders however were destined to write history as they became the second NHL team in history to rally back from a 3-0 deficit and win the series. History almost repeated itself once more in the third round as the Islanders forced a game seven against the eventual 1975 Stanley Cup winners, the Philadelphia Flyers.
As they continued to excel through the next season, the Islanders wracked up an impressive 101 points. Not bad for a team only four years into their existence. Bryan Trottier, who was in his rookie season, captured the Calder Trophy crown and was making his mark throughout the league.
The end of the 70’s saw the Islanders make the playoffs each season, getting further and further ahead with their force. Fun statistic: in 1976 and 1977, the Montreal Canadiens went 24-3 during the playoffs. All three losses, were at the hands of the New York Islanders.
1977 saw the capture and emergence of Mike Bossy. Bossy was drafted 15th overall and won the Calder Trophy becoming the third Islander to have it under his belt. The following season, 1978-79, the New York Islanders finished with the best record in the NHL. Only one thing could follow that feat.