Saturday, May 8, 2010

Today in Hockey History - 1982

Today in 1982 was game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals between the 2 time defending cup champion New York Islanders and the Vancouver Canucks in their first Stanley Cup finals.

At the end of the 1981-82 regular season it seemed a foregone conclusion the Islanders would face the Edmonton Oilers and their record setting captain Wayne Gretzky for the Stanley Cup. Gretzky had set new records for goals (92), assist (120) and total points (212). His closest challenger was Islanders captain Mike Bossy who had 147 points.
The LA Kings had other ideas about the Finals, they came into the playoffs the 8th out of 8 playoff teams and were given little hope to stop the scoring juggernaut in Edmonton. However the Oilers got overconfident and on April 10th it was game 3 of the first round best of 5 between the host LA Kings and Oilers. In what became known as the Miracle on Manchester the Kings went down 5-0 before launching the greatest comeback in NHL playoff history. The Oilers ran roughshod over the seemingly outmatched Kings all season but in game 1 the Kings outgunned them 10-8 before dropping a 3-2 game 2. The series moved to LA for game 3 and Edmonton jumped all over the Kings and went into the 3rd period up 5-0 and then it happened, the Kings started to find the back of then and with only 5 seconds on the clock Steve Bozak tied the game at 5 and sent it into overtime. In that OT forward Daryl Evans sent a slapshot that just eluded the glove of Oiler goalie Grant Fuhr and sent the LA crowd into hysterics and a roar that nearly tore the roof off the Forum. With the Kings up 2-1 the Oilers fought back to win game 4 but just ran out of steam and lost game 5 to complete the biggest upset in playoffs history.

After that win the Kings fell 4 games to one against the Vancouver team on its way to the finals. Vancouver then dispatched the Chicago Blackhawks 4 games to 1 for the Campbell Conference Title.

The Islanders also struggled in their opening series against the 8th place Pittsburgh Penguins. The easily won games 1 and 2 before stumbling in Pittsburgh and losing games 3 and 4. They had score 2 goals to force OT in game 5 and finally dispatched the Penguins 3-2. This was the only misstep for the defending champs as they cruised past the Rangers 4-2, and beat the Quebec Nordiques 4-0 for the Prince of Wales Conference Title. In the Finals they outmanned the Vancouver Canucks to sweep to them 4-0 and win their 3rd consecutive Stanley Cup Championship.

Mike Bossy won the Conn Smythe Trophy as Finals MVP with 7 goals in the four games.

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