Dream Matchup is back! If you’d like to view our first one between the 1989 San Francisco 49ers and the 2004 New England Patriots, click here.
This time we’re looking at two hockey teams lead by two of the greatest to ever lace up a pair of skates. At one end, we’ve got the Mario Lemieux powered 1992 Pittsburgh Penguins. In the other, we’ve got Wayne Gretzky’s 1984 Edmonton Oilers. The connection between these teams, other than Mario vs. Wayne, is that neither team had no spectacular goaltending. Also, the belief is that Gretzky’s team was better for a longer period of time, but the Pens core had the higher ceiling.
Home Ice goes to the Oilers, based on their better home record (31-5-4 compared to the Pens 21-13-6). Let’s introduce the starting lineups for both teams, based on most points scored, points contributed by a player’s defense (Defensive Point Shares), and save percentage.
Forwards: Mario Lemieux (131 points), Kevin Stevens (127 pts), Joe Mullen (87 pts)
Defensemen: Gordie Roberts (3.6 DPS), Larry Murphy (4.6 DPS)
Goalie: Wendell Young (.889 save%)
Forwards: Wayne Gretzky (205 pts), Jari Kurri (113 pts), Mark Messier (101 pts)
Defensemen: Paul Coffey (4.4 DPS), Charlie Huddy (4.2 DPS)
Goalie: Grant Fuhr (.883 save %)
NOW, let’s get to the simulation. Remember, this is a best of seven series. We’re going to play a playoff format, meaning no shootouts.
Game One: Oilers 6, Penguins 5
Edmonton took a 4-0 lead in the first period, but had to make a small comeback after Pittsburgh stormed back and took the lead in the third. Bob Erry tied it and Wayne Gretzky’s third goal of the game with six seconds remaning ended it. Edmonton totaled 58 shots on Pittsburgh goaltending. Wendell Young had to be pulled in favor of Tom Barrasso, who conceded the winning goal. Mario Lemieux had two points and Joe Mullen was the only plus player among the starting forwards with a +1 rating.
Game Two: Oilers 9, Penguins 5
The game was 6-1, Edmonton at the end of the first, and the Oilers didn’t look back as they nailed down the Game Two win. Paul Coffey, who played for both teams in real life but is playing for Edmonton in this sim, racked up five assists to lead the way for the Oilers.
Before Game Three, as an NHL head coach would, I made a few changes to Pittsburgh’s lineup to help even things out. I’m having Tom Barrasso start in favor of Wendell Young, and I’m having Rick Tocchet, who’s a forward, start at one of the defensive spots instead of Gordie Roberts.
Game Three: Penguins 4, Oilers 8
Well, the changes didn’t seem to work. Wendell Young ended up coming in to back up Barrasso and the Penguins are in danger of being the first team swept in these Dream Matchup scenarios.
Game Four: Penguins 8, Oilers 13
OUCH. The Oilers light the lamp in a big way as they complete the sweep of Pittsburgh. This was the first time we got to see Andy Moog in goal for Edmonton, but chasing Fuhr did nothing to help the Pens. Paul Coffey and Jari Kurri both recorded a hat trick for Edmonton, while Gretzky, Messier, and Kevin Lowe had two goal games. Once again, we saw Wendell Young come in and attempt to provide relief in net, to no avail.
1984 Edmonton Oilers sweep 1992 Pittsburgh Penguins 4-0
Pittsburgh played no defense whatsoever in this series and it cost them. Edmonton was starting three forwards with 100+ points and a defenseman who had 100+ as well (Paul Coffey). Their defense was non-existent, as was their goaltending.
That’s all for this Dream Matchup. What matchup should we sim next? Let us know!
Photo Credit: B Bennett/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images