The Colorado Rockies moved to New Jersey and were renamed the Devils. In keeping with the geographical realignment that had taken place the year before, the team was also moved into the Patrick Division of the Prince of Wales Conference.
Wayne Gretzky set only one record this year, with 125 assists. His goal production fell from 96 to 'only' 71, but Edmonton still scored a record 424 goals. Three other Oilers, Glenn Anderson, Jari Kurri, and Mark Messier, had 100 or more points. Gretzky was, again, the league's leading scorer and the winner of the Hart Trophy.
The Boston Bruins, though, had the NHL's best record with 110 points to lead the Adams Division, while the Chicago Blackhawks finished first in the Norris Division and the Philadelpia Flyers led the Patrick Division.
The New York Islanders, after winning the Stanley Cup three years in a row, started slowly. They finished 10 points behind the Flyers, but they were coming on strong as the season ended. The New York Rangers upset the Flyers in the first round of the playoffs and the Islanders, after beating the Washington Capitals in the first round, eliminated the Rangers to reach the conference finals against the Bruins, who were coming off a seven-game series against the Buffalo Sabres in the Adams Division. The Islanders knocked off the Bruins in six games.
Meanwhile, the Oilers were breezing through the Campbell Conference playoffs, winning 11 of 12 games enroute to the Stanley Cup finals. But they just couldn't cope with the Islanders' playoff experience and defensive skills. The Islanders outscored the Oilers 17-6 and held Gretzky scoreless in a four-game sweep.
It was not only the fourth consecutive Stanley Cup championship for the Islanders, it was their second consecutive sweep. In those four trips to the finals, the Islanders lost a total of only three games.