Why is Gretzky known as the best?
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10-24-2004, 03:03 AM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Toronto via Calgary!
Ok, NYIsles guy. When the playoff format when to inter-conference, Calgary finally starting winning some playoff series. Right there you've showed your thin knowledge. The conf. format was instituted in 1993-94 and Cgy. lost to the Canucks, then to the Sharks and Hawks in the first round the next 2 seasons before their 7 year drought. The divisional format was still in there when the Flames began some success in the mid-to-late 80s, then pitifully underacheived after the cup win 89. Yet you know something, they beat the Oilers once in the playoffs. The Oilers won in 83 handily like they should've, came closer than they should've to losing but still won in 84 and lost when they should have won in 86 and we all know what fluky goal did them in! But the Oil managed to beat the Flames even when the Flames were the better team in 1988 (Oilers having 99 to their league-high 105 pts.) and 1991 (82 pts. to the Flames 99).
In an earlier post, my study did support the proof that the Isles had tougher competition to defeat in the playoffs but the notion that Gretz and the Oilers would have struggled to win cups in the Prince of Wales is nonsense. Within itself, the P.O.W. was more closely competitive. The Campbell was the Oilers and everyone else until Calgary woke up. But does that make Edmonton a weaker team than the isles? Not really because the Oilers didn't exactly suffer against P.O.W. teams. Like the Rangers, Capitals and Flyers could've put a stop to the Oilers better than they did to the Isles? I don't buy it, really. But you think that would hurt the Oil in playing in the P.O.W. because the other teams would tire them out and that they beat up on Wales teams in the finals only because those teams were tired out? No no no, that can easily be cancelled out.
The point is, and we're going by driving distance in cases of under 2 days straight, while the Islanders nearest rival, the Rags, was a mere 2 hrs. away (as was the Oil's rival the Flames), their whole division was within at the most (Washington) a 24 hr. day's drive! Washington, Philly, Pittsburgh, later New Jersey were pretty close. As for the other div. you might ask? It was also just a full day's drive to find their furthest rival, as in Quebec. Montreal was a bit shorter of a trip, Buffalo even shorter, Boston about the same, Hartford; maybe 5 hours! Pretty close knit as there were no teams from the East Side, in the sun belt or southcentral or even northcentral for that matter.
The Oilers had not far to go for the Flames, a full day's drive to Vancouver, a day and a half to get to Winnipeg but a freakin' 3.5 hour flight to face Los Angeles who was a bit more than twice as far from Edmonton as the furthest team in the whole P.O.W. conf. was from the Isles. Edmonton, after all, is the furthest North of all major cities in North America. Then, let's go to the Norris. Sure, weak teams and all but Chicago (2.5 hour flight), Minnesota (1.5 hour flight), Detroit (3 hour flight), St. Louis (4.5 hour flight) and Toronto (3.5 hour flight) are not exactly down the road. Factor in this during the reg. season, and a couple of not-so-tough trips during the Div. playoffs, then you face the distant Norris div. winner. Sounds like a lot more flight time than what the Isles had to deal with.
Remember the 1993 Conf. finals in the Campbell Conf. The Leafs and Kings are 5 hours apart and they had to make 4 flights during the series. That's 20 hours on a plane. Meanwhile, the Habs and Isles even if they went 7 would have 4 flights totalling 4 hours. I should know about the Western travel problem, it tires teams out no matter what you want to think when it comes to quality of opponents. The reg. season is way tougher to deal with. And Eastern teams complain about going West, please!!! They don't have to travel multiple hours on the plane to play divisional rivals!!! Being the Habs and going to Tampa takes 2.5 hours but you only make that trip twice in the reg. season, usually pieced in there is a game at Florida.
Being a Habs fan, this close proximity is what helped us stay fresh enough to vanquish our gassed opponents in the 86 and 93 cup finals. The Flames in 89 were good enough to only lose 4 game en route to the finals because if it had been 6-9 L's piled up, they'd be too tired to last against Montreal especially with the crazy 3.5 hour flights. The playoffs would be more balanced if the Eastern and Western teams were pooled 1-16 but that takes away from divisional and conf. rivalry. If it had been like this; guaranteed less injuries and fatigue for the Flames and they'd have beaten Tampa who although they played distant NYI, Montreal and Philly (all over 1.5 hrs. away), didn't need as many games as the Flames who battled Vancouver, Detroit and San Jose (all but one is 3 or more hours away on a flight). If you could calculate the hours every year between the finalist from the Campbell/West and the one from the Wales/East, you'd see the decided advantage of playing out East. Competition aside, the travel length makes you weary and the Oilers avoided this sometimes by not getting drawn into 7 game series' (or the DSF 5 game distance before 1986) with far-away teams. Under div. playoffs: only in the finals vs. Philly in 87, 3 times vs. Calgary, once against Winnipeg in 90, and against LA in 5 games in 82 and 7 in 89 but they were eliminated in those Div. Semi-finals anyway, so there wasn't much to be tired about for a proceeding series.
The fact that the Isles conf. had more teams finish with better records and it was overall not as top-heavy as the Campbell Conf., you still had to play Western teams much more than now because there was just 21 in the NHL. And before the div. format, reg. season play was easy for the Isles too. Playoffs made sure they ended up facing the quality rivals from the P.O.W. such as Montreal, Buffalo, Boston, Toronto and sometimes LA. The tough teams were in their own div. in Philly and Atlanta. They were in the weaker Campbell from 75-81 BTW with the inconsistent such as the Rangers (always tough on the Isles though) and Blackhawks while the Blues and North Stars just plained sucked until 1979. Colorado always was crap, too. Also, the relatively weak WHA teams came in for the last two years that the Isles were in the Campbell, adding the terrible Winnipeg and still bad Washington. Only with the restructured league did the Caps come to life and the Pens and Devils permanently nestle into the bottom.
The Isles had some out-of-div. competition with Montreal, Boston, Buffalo and Quebec a legion of rotating threats out of the Adams. Only Hartford, Pittsburgh and New Jersey were consistently dreadful in this 81-84 time period. While teams took turns being the best in their divisions while remaining never too far ahead of their peers (except for the Islanders of course), the Oilers had the inconsistent Norris to contend with (only Minnesota, Chicago and Detroit had back-to-back seasons of 1st in that division that usually had only 1 team over .500) in the Oilers heyday of 1981-90. While the afformentioned squads blew at other points, Toronto was generally an emberassment and St. Louis waded through mediocrity, only coming 1st in 86-87 with a mere 79 pts., a year after their only conf. final of this period). And a rotating basis of quality competitors would show up in the up-and-down Winnipeg and Los Angeles, while Calgary rounded into their natural born enemies for the rest of the decade. I think I mentioned that in these 9 year periods, the Oilers avg. playoff opponent had 75 pts., the Isles had a quality of 89 pts. Big difference, but maybe it's because the Oilers just made everyone else look that bad.
There were teams everyone beat up on in the Isles 81-84 section, but in the Campbell they all took turns beating on one another while the Oilers, and later Flames, ruled the roost. The only team to rarely show improvement in this 81-90 period was the Canucks. In the 75-84 period for the Isles, it gets tough to gauge because it's split up into two seperate fields of competition. The first being rather easy, the 2nd being more difficult. Eventually, div. rivals Philly and Washington figured out the islanders dynasty and it crumbled, ebbed and flowed throughout the rest of the div. playoff format with the Devils, Rangers and Flyers all offering defeat with the 93 Isles shocking the Caps and Penguins being the only Isle team since their dynasty to truly make a run at the big one.
As for the Oilers, after 1990 they had two unexpected runs through their more tight div. with just the new San Jose Sharks being the constant back-to-back playoff outsiders. But in the last year of the div. format, the Oilers (though more than doubly outsucked by the Sharks) became that team on the skids that everyone haplessly beats up on, to the tune of 60 pts. Their worst season. They missed the playoffs for 4 straight years so any resemblance of success last seen in 92 was gone. As for the Isles, they too would not see success like '93 until finally making to back to the post-season in 2001 after experiencing miserable years they had never even come close to experiencing during dry spells of the early 90s and late 80s and their inaugural 2 seasons. But the Oilers managed to become a consistent playoff squeaker in 1996 and onward. That's where the dynasties have gone, as everyone knows.
Last edited by Hab-a-maniac: 10-24-2004 at
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