Also, what was the deal in 1984, because the Oilers had the better record. Wasn't it that they got the choice of starting at home or on the road with the 2-3-2 format?
For the first few years of the divisional realignment in the 80s, home ice advantage in the Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Final was decided by a coin flip at the start of the season, the reasoning being that using point totals wasn't fair since teams in a weaker division or conference had an unfair advantage. The Wales Conference was up for home ice that year. The point totals didn't matter.
2-3-2 was said to be used because it would cut down on travel during the series. Baseball had always used 2-3-2 for the World Series, and the NHL had a habit of copying a lot of things that MLB did then.
The biggest complaint was that if the series ended in 5 games, the team with home ice advantage would end up getting less home dates than the other team, so the league eventually decided to give the home team the choice of 1, 2, 6 and 7, or 3, 4, 5. I don't think anyone ever chose 3,4,5.
I believe teams can still choose 232 but only in the western conference and only if its a Pst team vs Est team
I'm not positive how the rules in the 80's but I do know the way it worked in the 90's
In 1993-94 once they adopted the conference brackets, it was decided as a compromise to the central teams which now had increased travel that 2-3-2 should be used should they meet a pacific foe in the playoffs with the higher seed getting the choice of starting at home or on the road. 4 of the playoff series used that format, 2 ended in 5, 2 ended in 7 with the higher seed winning only one of the 4.... the next year the rule was changed so that the higher seed can choose between 2-3-2 or 2-2-1-1-1. I'm not sure what happened to this rule once they went to 3 divisions in 1999 but I do know the format has not been used since 1994.
I kind of thing they should have used it in the finals from 1999-2012 but especially 2006-2008 when the two finalists would only have 10-15 common games out of 82 (same reason the MLB uses it). It somewhat offsets the advantage because the team starting on the road gets the extra home game if it goes 5 and one fewer if it goes 7.