Rookie Mike Bossy scored 53 goals during the regular season, but unimpressed critics pointed that one of his teamates was Brian Trottier, and who couldn't score 53 goals playing with the NHL's premier center?
Bossy answered those critics Monday night, scoring a goal and adding an assist on a new line as the New York Islanders opened their best-of-seven Stanley Cup playoff quarterfinal series with a 4-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Switching lines wasn't a big adjustment for me," said Bossy, virtually a shoo-in for rookie honors after smashing Richard Martin's record of 44 goals by a rookie. "I played two games with Mike this season when Bryan was hurt and I scored four goals."
Anticipating heavy checking for the Trottier-Bossy-Clark Gillies line, Islander Coach Al Arbour teamed Bossy with Mike Kaszycki and Bob Bourne. Boy Nystrom took Bossy's place and scored a goal, adding a nice touch to Arbour's strategy.
"Changing lines wasn't such a big thing," said Arbour. "I just thought I would put Bobby Nystrom with Trottier to get some more muscle up there."
Bossy set up Kaszycki for the first goal of the game, drawing defenders to himself then flipping a breakway pass to the middle. Kaszyck's 25-footer was the first of three first-period goals for New York.
Nystrom's goal was a beautiful solo effort through the defense and Bossy's goal was a close-in tip.
Darryl Sittler of Toronto and Wayne Merrick of New York traded goals in the second period, but the first-period barrage had guaranteed the verdict.
In other NHL quarterfinal operners: Canadiens 6, Red Wings 2
The line of Yvan Cournoyer, Pierre Mondou and Rejean Houle accounted for 10 points as Montreal opened its quest for a third straight Stanly Cup. Cournoyer, with 12 years of playoff experience, led the attack with two goals and one assist. Bruins 6, Black Hawks 2
Peter McNab scored two goals and assisted on a third. Terry O'Reilly scored a goal and had three assists.Wayne Cashman, Brad Park and Bobby Schmautz had the other Boston goals while Grant Mulvey tallied for the Black Hawks. Flyers 4, Sabres 1
Rich Macleish scored two goals to lead Philadephia to its first victory in five games with Buffalo this season. Bob Kelly and MacLeish scored in the second period after the teams had traded goals in the first.
"We have a good machine going now and we're going well," Flyer goalie Bernie Parent said.