Center Bryan Trottler the National Hockey League's top seager, leads the New York Islanders against the Washington Capitals tonight in a Capital Cenize game that will start at 8 o'clock, one-half hour later than usual, because of wrestling being scheduled earlier.
Trottler has collected 29 goals and 30 assists for 68 points. His linemates, left wing Clark Gillies and right wing Mike Bessy, are also among the NHL's top 10 scorers, Gillies with 49 points and Bossy with 47.
Each member of the line scored at least one goal, and Bossy had two, as the Islanders crushed the Capital Centre. Despite that success, the Islanders are only 88-4 on the road, a stumbling record that has prevented them form cathcing the Philadelphia Flyers, whom they trail by three points in the Patrick Division.
Bossy, who has netted 27 goals, is the leading scorer among NHL rookies. Bossy scored 308 goals and totaled 529 points in four junior seasons with Laval of the Quebec Leagues.
Trottler, a native of Saskatchewan, was drafted in the second round as an underage junior in 1974, then permitted to spend another season with Lethbridge of the Western Canada League.
As an NHL rookie two years ago, Trottier won the Calder Trophy and set first-year records of 95 points and 63 assists. Last year his output dropped to 72 points, but he has been the NHL's No. 1 scorer almost from the opening game this season.
Trottier has been double shifting, centering a second line in addition to the big one, but his duties are expected to be lightened a bit now that the Islanders have picked up center Wayne Merrick. He and defenseman Darcy Regier were obtained from Cleveland Tuesday in exchange for defenseman Jean Potvin and left wing J. P. Parise.
The Capitals never have beaten the Islanders, although they held New York to three ties last season. The overall series stands 10-0-3. In those 13 games, the Capitals have been outscored 59-19.
The Washington team was scheduled for a charter flight back from Minnesota immediately after last night's game, in order to get maximum rest. Bob Girard and Bob Sirois, the wingers on the Capitals' No. 1 line, were reported close to 100 per cent after a week-long struggle with the flu.
Defenseman Rick Green's shoulder separation, suffered Dec. 21, continues to keep him from skating.