'77 Habs vs. '84 Oilers
There was some fantasy article at cbc's sports online section about who would win. Their game story had the Oil winning 3-1 (an Oilers/Habs game 3-1?), but honestly. Who here thinks we definitely get the edge between those two teams. First off, the league wasn't that much more competitive when the Oilers won their 4 cups in 5 years. Montreal had an astounding record those 4 straight years. Not even the Oilers could stave off losses like the Habs did, in both reg. season and playoffs. You see, twice Montreal outscored their opponents by 200 goals or more and Edmonton, despite their being the greatest offense ever, never did. It all comes down to defense.
While the Oilers had those stay-at-home types and a few rushing defenseman such as Coffey, Montreal had 3 guys who could do a little bit of both. I envision Gretzky and Coffey skating up the ice with their passing but not getting much cause of Scotty's left-wing lock or Robinson and Lapointe completely stonewalling their weapons at the blueline. With the Habs being much better as a two-way team (Gainey, Robinson, Lemaire, Jarvis come to mind), I could see the Oilers getting caught lost up ice.
And as good as Fuhr was, he couldn't always stop Lafleur, Shutt, P. Mahovlich or Lemaire. He would let in softies but have the lead because of his team's high-powered offense and make the big saves once the score narrowed. But in this case, he may not be at will to give up soft goals because his team'll struggle to make them up. The Habs on average won by a 5-2 count while an average Oilers win was 6-4 that year.
With the D of the Habs, what few chances their snipers, and Gretzky, got, would be turned aside by Dryden who was maybe the better goalie based on him having to make the big saves every so often even with the possibility being rusty in between his time of action. I think the Habs would surely win a best-of-7 against the '84 Oilers even in spite of Gretzky. The Habs checking line of Risebrough-Jarvis-Gainey would do the job against their top 2 lines.
And if you had the Oilers goons such as Semenko or Don Jackson running after people who bother Gretz, there's always Pierre Bouchard, Robinson, Nyrop and several others willing to drop the gloves. This is why I think the 77 Habs could beat any team from any before them, and in the 80s. Although maybe today's best teams are in better shape and are bigger, that's irrelevant.
But we'd be all over their defense.
Bottom line is I think you've nailed it. Bowman would figure something out.
I wonder about a Risebrough-Messier and Jarvis-Gretzky matchup though. That's kind of scary. I'd much rather see Gainey on Messier, but whaddyagonna do?
If the two teams had to play each other over time, the Habs would have to pick up some size in the middle and get a goaltender (Dryden was overrated imho) and the Oil would definitely have to beef up their defense and checking lines.
Overall though, advantage Habs.
The '77 Habs had talent, speed, scoring power, tight defense, depth, toughness and team spirit. Unbeatable!!
Yeah, overall much more complete. While the Oilers had a great combo ofspeed, grit, toughness (Messier was a bulldog out there but IMHO gets overrated and is not one of the top 10 players ever, definitely a top leader but not player-he really only had 2 or 3 excellent seasons-1988, 1990 and 1994), goaltending and scoring they lacked the main components of defense. In terms of toughness, checking, defense, goaltending, grit and overall team concept, the 77 Habs hold the advantage. Montreal's defense and ability to play a system to a tee would be the factor.
Although they hold more strength up the middle than the 77 Habs, I think the wingers would outperform Edmonton's 84 wingers (Anderson and Kurri were great but couldn't compare to Lafleur at all) in most aspects. Then those 3rd and 4th lines and the defense. I think Robinson, Lapointe, Bill Nyrop, Rick Chartraw, Serge Savard and Engblom are a better set of 6 d-men than Coffey, Fogolin, Gregg, Huddy, Lowe and Jackson for sure although you'd have to say Lowe was equal to everyone except the big 3 on Mtl. and Coffey was a bigger offensive threat than anyone on the 77 Habs outside of the Flower.
The lineups (BTW, I don't know some positions and with d-men I can't say for sure who played what side):
Willy Lindstrom-Dave Hunter-Pat Hughes
Jaroslav Pouzar-Dave Lumley-Kevin McClelland
Goalies: *Fuhr, Moog.
That's (*) 3 current HOF'ers, 4 if you include Slats and (^) 3 others that will enter one day I believe. So, 7 HOF'ers (and at their peak of legendary players too).
Goalies: *Dryden, Larocque
That's (*) 10 Hall-of-famers, 11 if you include Scotty. 1978-79 was probably the most HOF-laden team ever because Rod Langway played on them too and that was 12 including the coach (2002's much less dominant, much older and much more pieced-together Red Wings will come close but ultimately short with Bowman, Larionov, Hull, Yzerman, Robitaille, Hasek, Chelios, Lidstrom, Shanahan and Fedorov makes 10). I don't mean to use the HOF members as a measuring stick but that is a clear indication that there's no contest. Those Habs definitely hold the edge to every team ever except maybe those 1956 Habs who have 12 including coach Toe Blake (Plante, Harvey, Butch Bouchard, Tom Johnson, Beliveau, Geoffrion, Olmstead, M. Richard, H. Richard, Dickie Moore and Ken Mosdell!).
So when I hear obviously biased Oiler fans claim their team was the greatest ever, I cringe. And they really should be told, "No you were not." BUT, you had the greatest offensive force ever, the greatest power forward/leader effort (unless you include Gordie Howe) ever and the 2nd greatest (to Orr) offensive defenseman ever. Not TEAM, though. If the Oil were so great, they'd have only lost under 50 games in 4 years as well, but no they lost somewhere around 80 from 1983-87. The claims that Gretzky and Messier, now 1-2 in scoring, are 1-2 all-time are ludicrous. Geez, I guess Mess deserves to be up there. Anyways, who's ever heard of Rocket Richard, Bobby Orr, Gordie Howe, Mario Lemieux or Jean Believeau? Come on! Messier in my personal top 100 ever list is somewhere at 15 or so.
Well there are a few other problems. I'm not sure the skating of Tremblay, Lambert, and even Risebrough is up to snuff to face a crew like the Oilers.
Having Robinson-Lapointe and Nyrop-Savard and the Lafleur line is the backbone of the team, no question, along with Gainey.
I don't know how you could say that Dryden matches up with Fuhr or even Moog, I just don't see it.
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