Sunday, May 25, 2008
Greatest Hockey Team Ever: Flash versus Bash
The second Sweet 16 match-up of our What If Sports generated Greatest Hockey Team Ever tournament is a battle between two 1980s dynasty—the high flying Oilers against the hard nosed Islanders.
The two franchises played in back-to-back finals in 1983 and 1984, splitting the two series. So, this is kind of the rubber match (Shut up. It does so matter ).
The early ‘80s Islanders were trapping before people understood what that meant. They played tough, disciplined hockey with a little blood on their sleeves. Don Cheery will be cheering for the Isles in this one.
The Oilers, on the other hand, are likely the sexiest championship team in history. You know that cliché about offense selling tickets and defense winning championships? Yeah, the Oilers pretty much through that out the window. They played OK on D, but the strength of this team was an unyielding attack lead by #99 himself. This particular Oilers side was likely the most offensive of all its title squads. However, it was also a bit like a prom king with ADD—pretty, but often distracted in the middle of tasks. It took seven games in the 1987 final before the Oilers could finish things off.
How they got here
The Islanders started by edging a team they had defeated for their first cup a year prior--the 1980 Flyers—before getting rid of an older version (’83) of themselves. In the third round, they held off a bunch of Flyers' goons from 1976.
The Oilers stared by defeating their provincial rivals, the ’86 Flames. Then the non-champions 1984 Islanders were taken care of before Mario Lemieux and the ’91 Penguins were shown the door.
Game 1 The Islanders decided to play Oiler hockey—and it paid off. Using three straight third period goals, New York came from behind to win 7-5 and take a 1-0 lead in the series. They were paced by a pair of goals from Anders Kallur and Bryan Trottier. Huge was the face-off play, as the Island dominated Edmonton up the middle, winning 80 per cent of its draws.
Game 2 With 50 shots and 10 goals the Islanders gave a lesson to Gretzky and the boys, winning 10-4 to lead 2-0 heading back to Alberta. New York was dominating on the power-play, going 4-for-5. Six different players scored for New York, but it was he Brian Trottier show. Trottier threw 15 shots on net and scored five points on the night.
Game 3 With four points, Wayne Gretzky lead the way in the Oilers 6-5 win on home ice. The result cut New York’s series lead to 2-1. Three of Gretzky’s points came in the third period, as he helped Edmonton overcome a two goal lead by New York.
Game 4 The wheels came off the Oilers bus in the third period, as they blew a three goal lead and fell the Islanders 6-5 in overtime. Mike Bossy netted the winner, one of his two goals and three points on the night. Edmonton still led with less than three minutes left, until Denis Potvin blasted one by Andy Moog to send it to the extra frame.
Game 5 The Islanders withstood four consecutive goals by the Oliers midway thorough the game to finish off their high-flying opponents in just five games, winning 6-4. After jumping out to a 3-0 lead, New York watched as Glenn Anderson, Jari Kurri, Mark Messier and Wayne Gretzky scored in less than 18 minutes to reverse the flow. But, Edmonton couldn’t hold on. After Randy Gregg took a double-minor, Clark Gillies tied it, then scored the winner, in a 66 second flurry to kill the Oil off for good.
Next up is an all-Habs battle between the 1958 and 1968 champions.