The 1984-85 season was a linchpin campaign in the Oilers dynasty, and concluded with the second of five Stanley Cups in a seven-year span.
Seven Hall of Famers featured in the lineup, and they were all over the ice as four forwards, two defensemen and a goaltender. Head coach and general manager Glen Sather is also in the Hall of Fame and built one of the most dangerous rosters in NHL history.
Coming Off the 1983-84 Season
The Oilers entered the 1984-85 campaign fresh off an electrifying season that saw them score an NHL record 446 goals in 1983-84. That season ended with the Oilers winning their first Stanley Cup in franchise history, and they were the odds-on favorites to win the Cup again in 1984-85.
Like all well-oiled machines, not much tinkering was necessary with the Oilers lineup. With the biggest guns already in place, Sather really only made one move of note entering the campaign. In the summer of 1984, Sather traded center Ken Linesman to the Boston Bruins for Mike Krushelnyski – and captured lightning in a bottle.
Krushelnyski might not be a household name, but his 1984-85 season was the best of his career. Krushelnyski racked up 43 goals and 88 points that season – which was a whopping 18 more goals and 23 more points than his next closest seasons.
Not like the Oilers needed any help. Linesman was the only player out of the top 19 scorers for the Oilers from 1983-84 that wasn’t there the following season. And Krushelnyski outpaced Linesman’s scoring from the previous campaign by 21 points.
Oilers Regular Season Wrecking Crew
The Oilers didn’t waste any time laying the lumber to the rest of the NHL. Edmonton didn’t lose until its 16th game of the season – going 12-0-3 through the first 15 contests. A 7-5 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Nov. 11, 1984, kicked off a three-game losing streak – which was the most consecutive games the Oilers would lose the entire season.
Edmonton racked up 109 points with a 49-20-11 record, amassing more than 400 goals for the fourth of five consecutive seasons. No other franchise has ever reached 400 goals in a season.
The offensive numbers were ridiculous all around, even by that era’s standards. Edmonton piled up 401 goals, and scored six or more goals in 37 of its 80 games. They racked up 24 hat tricks between six different players – including nine from Jari Kurri and eight from Gretzky.
The 70-goal plateau has been reached by only eight players in NHL history, and two of them were on the Oilers in 1984-85 in Gretzky (73) and Kurri (71). The team had four different 40-goal scorers with Gretzky, Kurri, Krushelnyski and Glenn Anderson (42), and Paul Coffey wasn’t far behind with 37.
Gretzky led the league in goals (73), assists (135), points (208), plus-minus (plus-100), even-strength goals (54, tied with Kurri), and short-handed goals (11). He took home the Hart Memorial Trophy, Art Ross Trophy and the Ted Lindsay Award. Coffey won the Norris Memorial Trophy and Kurri won the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy. Goaltender Grant Fuhr was also sixth in the Vezina Trophy voting.
For all of their magic during the regular season, the Oilers didn’t have the best record. That belonged to the Philadelphia Flyers, who tallied 113 points behind a mark of 53-20-7. The Flyers won all three regular-season meetings between the two teams, but a different story would be written in the playoffs.
Unprecedented Postseason Dominance
For all of the damage the Oilers did to opposing goaltenders in the regular season, the crease opposite Edmonton was an even more terrifying place in the postseason.
Edmonton won its first nine games of the playoffs, on the way to its collision course with Philadelphia in the Stanley Cup Final. After going winless against the Flyers in the regular season, the Oilers were a completely different animal with the Stanley Cup on the line.
Edmonton dispatched Philadelphia in five games. After dropping the opening game of the series 4-1, the Oilers outscored the Flyers 20-10 while sweeping the final four games to lift the Cup for the second year in a row.
Over their 18 playoff games that season, the Oilers racked up 98 goals. They set an NHL record with 44 goals in one series – the six-game win over the Chicago Blackhawks in the Conference Finals. In Game 1 against the Blackhawks, Coffey set the single-game playoff record for points by a defenseman with a goal and five assists.
The individual efforts read like a fairy tale. Kurri scored 19 goals in the playoffs, tying the NHL record by Reggie Leach. He scored three hat tricks in the Conference Final alone, piling up 12 goals against the Blackhawks – also an NHL record for goals in a series. Coffey totaled 12 goals and 25 assists for 37 points and a plus-26 rating – and all four are NHL records to by a defenseman in a single postseason.
Kurri and Coffey had more in common that postseason than record-setting performances. Despite all those gaudy numbers, neither of them did enough to win the Conn Smythe Trophy.
Gretzky scored his first playoff MVP honors with a few records of his own. The Great One put together the best postseason of his sparkling career with 17 goals and 30 assists for a rocking 47 points – in just 18 games. His points total sent an NHL playoff record, and his plus-28 rating is also the best ever.
Anderson finished with 10 goals and 26 points, while Mark Messier – who was the Conn Smythe winner the previous season – added 12 goals and 25 points. The quintet of Gretzky, Kurri, Anderson, Messier and Coffey all had at least 10 goals and 25 points in that single postseason. None of them were older than 24.
The Oilers won all 10 home games in that postseason, which proved to be the crux of an 18-game home winning streak in the playoffs from 1984-86. They rolled to the Stanley Cup in 1984-85, going 15-3 in the playoffs.
And as a sign of things to come, longtime Gretzky linemate Esa Tikkanen made his NHL debut in the Stanley Cup Final against the Flyers.
This Oilers team, in the middle of a devastating run of five Cups in seven years, was one of the most dominant offensive forces in the history of the NHL.
They rolled through the regular season and followed it up with the most electrifying offensive run in postseason history – with numerous records still standing. Seven Hall of Famers – Gretzky, Coffey, Kurri, Messier, Anderson, Fuhr and Kevin Lowe – sparkled for this team, which was led by a Hall of Fame coach and GM in Sather.
There have been teams that scored more goals (to be nitpicky, those were all other Oilers teams made up with the bulk this group), and teams with better records, but no team in history could keep up with this team’s offensive dominance when it came to the playoffs.
That excellence when it mattered most is what puts the 1984-85 Oilers near the top of the conversation for greatest teams of all time.
Lifelong storyteller and experienced hockey reporter that has covered everything from major juniors to the NHL. Worked for various newspapers across Minnesota and North Dakota, and now covering the Colorado Avalanche for THW.