Bryan Murray calls him "a very definite factor" for the New York Islanders, and Bryan Trottier, the player who skated all season without much of his former intensity, certainly was tonight.
Trottier scored a pair of power play goals, directing the Islanders' man-advantage unit and causing Washington Coach Murray to juggle personnel in an attempt to stop him.
"If Dennis (Maruk) was on the ice (for a faceoff), I'd get him off and put (Doug) Jarvis in, and have Glen Currie out the odd time," Murray said.
"Trottier created opportunities for them on the power play, no question about it. His play, and that of (goalie) Billy Smith were the difference."
Trottier, who had 62 points against the Capitals this season, has spent most of his time as an Islander being keyed upon, something he thinks is "a nice, pride kind of thing."
"I'm always aware of it, like tonight," he said, "but I never let it bother me. It's really a thing to take pride in--the other team thinks you're good enough to try to work around. At this point I almost expect it, and just manage to handle it, you know?"
Trottier had heard the grumbling throughout the season about the Islanders' often anemic power play, and he heard the doubters going into the playoffs.
"People were saying how it wasn't working. You control the puck for two minutes and if it doesn't get into the net, everybody thinks it isn't working," he said.
"Well, sure, the important thing is to put it into the net, but it's only in there less than 10 seconds.
"You control that puck all that time, skating with it, that's part of seeing it work, too. I was just glad tonight we got some scoring chances on it."
Trottier was obviously pleased at his own two goals, the first set up by Denis Potvin, the next a feed from Anders Kallur.
However, he said he was primarily concerned with "getting the power play itself to do well. It's so important to make sure we're getting those kind of chances during the playoffs," he said.
Trottier's first goal, halfway through the first period, was a shot that Potvin started to deflect.
"When Denis saw it stop, he saw me move in, and he fell for a block so I could get at it," Trottier said. "The next one, I kind of expected the puck to go over (Mike) Bossy, and instead I got a piece of it.
"If the power play is popping that puck and moving it around," he added, "That's the key, and we'll have to keep it working."
After last week's 7-1 defeat of the Capitals, did Trottier and company feel they had already put a dent in the Washington team? "No way," Trottier said. "This wasn't the second game of anything. It was the first game of the playoffs with them. That team has the skaters, the hitters, the desire and talent. Their record shows it, and their talent proves it. This still isn't a team we take lightly."
The Islanders' up-and-down season, with slumps more frequent than in past seasons, shouldn't haunt them during the playoffs, according to Trottier.
"Not that we really need to get up for the playoffs, but I do think everybody is really getting fired up for it. If we hadn't won this game, maybe we would've felt we do turn it on and off, but now we're okay," he said. "It's good to see Bobby (Nystrom) and Billy (Smith) excited."
And Bryan Trottier, too? He smiled, about as emotional or expressive as he gets. "It's just nice to contribute something."