1980-81 Semis vs. New York Rangers
By some miracle, the New York Rangers made it to the semi-finals of the 1980-81 NHL playoffs. Like the Vancouver Canucks in 1981-82, the Rangers had a losing regular season record. With a 30-36-14 record, they were fourth in the Patrick Division.
But because of the way the playoffs seeding was structure the Rangers got in. And they went on one heck of a run. Thanks to Ron Duguay who had 17 points in 14 playoff games, the Rangers made it to a single round from the Stanley Cup.
A note on Duguay, he had 38 points in 50 regular season games. He put up 45% of his regular season production in just under 30% of the time.
Thanks to Duguay the Rangers eliminated the Los Angeles Kings in four games and the St Louis Blues in six games. Buying them a ticket to face the Islanders in the semifinals. For the Islanders, this was going to be a chance at payback for 1978-79 when the Rangers bounced the Isles in the second round after six games.
Just like in 78-79, the Islanders were the better team. They held the best record in the NHL. But unlike 78-79 they weren’t going to bow out early thanks to their cross-river rival.
In four games the Islanders held a +14 goal differential over their rivals. That’s an average of 3.5 more per game. The Islanders buried the Rangers. They also buried the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Edmonton Oilers and the Minnesota North Stars as they capture their second Stanley Cup in a row.
They may not have won a cup in this series, but beating your rival, getting revenge after they upset you int he playoffs a few years prior, and then winning your second in a row is special.