No one was asking the New York Islanders about Boston, the team they had just beaten, 8-4. No one was asking Mike Bossy much about his four goals, a feat enabling him to tie four NHL playoff records (three hat tricks in one playoff year, nine goals in one series, three goals in one period and two hat tricks in a single series.)
All the questions were about the Edmonton Oilers, the other finalist in this year's Stanley Cup showdown and a team the Islanders had eagerly anticipated playing, though they dared not say so too loudly.
"Everybody's assuming we're going to play them, but I'm not assuming anything," said wing Clark Gillies the other day at practice. Then he added, "Even I would enjoy seeing us play them."
And so when Wayne Merrick scored the final goal of Saturday's game during the third period, adding a decisive if unnecessary touch to the Islanders' victory, the home team began mentally packing for today's flight to Alberta. The best-of-seven final series starts in Edmonton on Tuesday with the Islanders aiming for a fourth straight Stanley Cup.
"We know they've had a long rest," said Bryan Trottier, referring to the Oilers' week-long break since eliminating the Chicago Black Hawks. "Let's just hope that rest will hurt them more and not us."
Trottier, who scored one goal and assisted on three of Bossy's, was asked if the Islanders' power play would be effective against the Oilers. Saturday night, the Islanders capitalized on one chance in four, but the man-advantage unit had been inconsistent at best during the Boston-New York series. On Thursday, it was completely shut out in four tries.
"I'm sure we'll all be ready. We've been waiting for this," he said.
Bossy had spent the fifth game of this series shackled by Bruins rookie Luc Dufour, but on Saturday he shook off the shadowing and began playing the sort of playoff hockey for which he is known.
"I had the speed this time," he said. "I didn't mind so much playing against Dufour. I expect to have somebody on me. It's happened before and I'm sure it always will."
Bossy said Islanders Coach Al Arbour did not purposely pit the Bossy line (Gillies, Trottier and Bossy) against any specific line of Boston's, although the three did seem to meet up with the Bruins' Barry Pederson and Rick Middleton most of the game.
"We were very well-balanced," Arbour said. "I knew we could go against anybody. All of those (eight) goals were very important ones. We weren't about to give anything to them, even in the third period."
Bossy wondered aloud about his club's power play. "It's not that I'm afraid we can't score," he said. "It's just that you don't want to start playing helter-skelter hockey. Not in the finals, against Edmonton."