May 23, 2008

1985: Oilers Domination

The year is 1985. The cocky Edmonton Oilers are no longer hockey's fast rising young guns, but Stanley Cup champions. And with that came a maturity that helped make them all but invincible.

Always remembered for their incredible offense, the Oilers also played a formidable defensive game that history has always neglected. With their new found experience and unshakable confidence, there was no chance of blown leads or upsets this time around.

The Oilers steamrolled Los Angeles and Winnipeg before meeting Chicago in a memorable and high scoring Conference Finals. Jari Kurri was the star against the Blackhawks. The Oilers outscored the Hawks 43-26, with Kurri scoring 12, a NHL record for a single playoff series. Kurri was propelled by 3 shutouts in that series, another record. In total that playoffs he had 4 hat tricks, another NHL playoff record. Not surprisingly, Kurri led all players with 19 goals that post-season, tying Reggie Leach's 1976 record.

The Oilers faced off against the Philadelphia Flyers in the Stanley Cup finals. Wayne Gretzky and Paul Coffey led the way in the 5 game series. Gretzky scored 7-4-11 while Coffey tallied 3-8-11. Gretzky led all playoff scorers in total scoring, with a NHL record 47 points, including 17 goals, making him the obvious choice as the Conn Smythe trophy winner.

Coffey, finished second with 37 points and likely finished 2nd in Conn Smythe voting. Coffey set a plethora of NHL records in the spring of 1985, including most goals (12), most assists (25) and most points by a defenseman in one playoff.

Goalie Grant Fuhr cemented his status as the top goalie in hockey. He stopped Ron Sutter and Dave Poulin on consecutive penalty shots in consecutive games. The save on Sutter is seen as especially imperative in the annals of history.

The young Flyers were rising as the Oilers top Eastern rivals, finishing 4 points higher in the regular season standings and were 7-0-1 against the Oilers dating back to 1982. A young Mike Keenan had the likes of Mark Howe, Brian Propp, Tim Kerr, and Brad McCrimmon, but would lose goalie Pelle Lindbergh in a car crash that claimed his life early in the next season.

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