An overview of the New York Islanders dynasty, the last true NHL dynasty and the only franchise to ever win 19 consecutive playoff series.
The Dynasty. Even 30 years later, it defines the New York Islanders franchise. The Islanders of the 1980s are still the last NHL team to win more than two consecutive Stanley Cups and the only team to win 19 playoff series in a row.
May 24, 1980: Tonelli to Nystrom. At long last, the steady build of the New York Islanders from expansion doormat to surprise semifinalist to annual contender reaches the promised land: Buoyed by a late season trade for Butch Goring that gave the team the depth up the middle GM Bill Torrey had been seeking, the Islanders knock off the Philadelphia Flyers in six games.
The victory justified the faith in coach Al Arbour who guided them from their second season to their first Stanley Cup seven seasons later. The Islanders would not be the first expansion team to win the Stanley Cup, but they would be the only one capable of a dynasty.
May 21, 1981: This time it was much easier. After falling to "only" 91 points in the 1979-80 season, the Islanders returned to their division title tradition, piling up 110 points -- a whole 13 points over second-place Philadelphia.
Between the quarterfinals (where they beat the upstart Oilers in six games) and the finals, the Islanders reeled off eight consecutive wins -- with a four-game sweep of archrival Rangers in between. As they defeated the Minnesota North Stars in five games for their second Cup, their goal difference in the final was a combined +10.
May 16, 1982: Another year, another landslide title. The Islanders won the Patrick Division by a whopping 26 points over the second-place Rangers, and were seven points clear of their nearest competition for the President's Trophy, the still-not-quite-ripe Edmonton Oilers.
A first-round scare against the Pittsburgh Penguins turned in the Isles' favor thanks to John Tonelli's heroics, and a true dynasty was on its way: Past the Rangers in six games, then an eight-game sweep of the Quebec Nordiques and Vancouver Canucks to run away with the Stanley Cup.
May 17, 1983: Not so fast, whipper-snappers. The Edmonton Oilers' steadily rising challenge for league supremacy took them all the way to the finals for the first time, where the New York Islanders summarily dispatched them in a four-game sweep. For the Islanders, the Dynasty was secured. For the Oilers, it was a powerful lesson in where talent ends and the demands of playoff hockey begin.
Four years, four Cups, 16 consecutive playoff series wins (a record that would grow to 19 until the rematch with the Oilers the following year). Mike Bossy scored 60 goals yet again, and Wayne Gretzky became acquainted with Billy Smith's crease.