Best Teams Ever bracket: NHL edition, Round 2

Welcome to the Best Team Ever bracket series, where the greatest of all time have their most dominant seasons stacked up against each other until we ultimately crown a champion in each sport. The tournament will be decided by fan vote, so be sure to submit yours below! The second round of polling closes at noon ET on Thursday, April 2.

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Best Teams Ever bracket: NHL edition, Round 2. (Yahoo Sports illustration)
Best Teams Ever bracket: NHL edition, Round 2. (Yahoo Sports illustration)

1985 Oilers vs. 1987 Oilers

No. 1: 1984-85 Oilers
The squad voted “Greatest NHL Team of All Time” in the league’s centennial celebration fan vote cruised by the ‘70 Bruins, featuring the great Bobby Orr, in Round 1.

The Edmonton Oilers repeated as Stanley Cup champions and produced three major award winners in a record-breaking regular season. Wayne Gretzky won his sixth straight Hart Trophy and fifth consecutive Art Ross Trophy with 73 goals and 208 points, while also establishing the current postseason scoring record with 47 points in 18 games. Defenseman Paul Coffey won his first of three Norris trophies and Jari Kurri won the Lady Byng, while also matching the playoff record for goals in a single postseason with 19.

No. 8: 1986-87 Oilers
The ‘87 Oilers overcame huge disappointment from the previous season to win the Cup for the third time in four years. In Round 1 of our bracket, they crushed the ‘94 Rangers, featuring the infamous Mark Messier “guarantee.”

It wasn’t the most dominant team from the Oilers’ dynasty seasons, and it needed seven games to defeat the Flyers in the Stanley Cup Final, but it might have been the most talented. Wayne Gretzky extended his ownership of the league’s Most Valuable Player award to an eighth season.

1992 Penguins vs. 2002 Red Wings

No. 5: 1991-92 Penguins
Sweeping Chicago to claim their second straight Stanley Cup and winning the final 11 games of the playoffs en route to the title summed up the magic featured on and around this team. This Pittsburgh unit outvoted the all-time great ‘84 Oilers in the first round.

The 1992 Penguins featured maybe the greatest version of the great Mario Lemieux. He posted 34 points (16 goals, 18 assists) in 15 games for Pittsburgh, winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP for the second straight year — becoming just the second player in league history to accomplish the feat. The Pens also became just the third team at the time to win back-to-back Stanley Cups with a different coach leading the way.

No. 13: 2001-02 Red Wings
This loaded team, which established a mini, modern-day dynasty with its third Stanley Cup under Scotty Bowman, absolutely pummeled the ‘89 Flames, who were quite amazing, in Round 1.

The 2002 Wings, on top of their legendary coach, boasted a lineup full of future Hall of Famers, including Brendan Shanahan, Sergei Fedorov, Brett Hull, Nicklas Lidstrom, Steve Yzerman and goalie Dominik Hasek. They also became the first team ever to capture the Cup after starting their postseason with two losses at home.

1977 Canadiens vs. 1996 Red Wings

No. 2: 1976-77 Canadiens
The team responsible for one of the all-time greatest regular seasons in NHL history — and the best version of the Canadiens’ 70s dynasty squads — easily had their way with the 2010 Blackhawks in the first round.

En route to their second straight Cup, and fourth of six total championships in the 1970’s for Montreal, the Habs posted an absurd 60-8-12 record in the regular season before steamrolling their way through the playoffs with a 12-2 mark. Ken Dryden became just the fifth NHL goalie ever to post four shutouts in a single postseason, while Guy Lafleur — with nine goals and 26 points — took home playoff MVP honors.

No. 7: 1995-96 Red Wings
A bit of an upset here as the only Cup-less team in the bracket — albeit one that set the single-season wins record of 62 — got by the superb ‘01 Avalanche squad, and by a fairly decent margin.

It was one of the greatest seasons on record, and the 1995-96 Red Wings still hold the record for points in an 82-game season, but it ended in disappointment. The Red Wings crashed out in the Western Conference Final in the first of many battles with the rival Colorado Avalanche. They’re the only non-Cup winning team in this bracket — they were that good.

1983 Islanders vs. 1988 Oilers

No. 3: 1982-83 Islanders
The powerhouse New York Islanders of the early 1980s featured some superb squads, but the 1983 group was in a league if its own. In Round 1, they took down (in a landslide) a magnificent Anaheim Ducks team that posted a record 16-game unbeaten streak to start the season en route to its first Cup in 2007.

While the Islanders were not the same team that they were in the previous three regular seasons, a remarkable run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs saw them prolong their dynasty — and delay another. The veteran Islanders swept the Oilers in Gretzky and Co.’s first-ever Stanley Cup Final appearance, holding the highest-scoring team in the league to just six goals.

No. 6: 1987-88 Oilers
The ‘88 Oilers posted arguably the most dominant postseason ever with a 16-2 record and won Edmonton’s fourth Stanley Cup title in five years. They defeated, in close fashion, an insanely talented ‘78 Habs team in Round 1, one who dominated their way to their third consecutive Stanley Cup after losing just 10 games during the regular season.

After finishing second in the division to a talented Calgary Flames squad — when the Battle of Alberta was at its ‘80s apex — the Oilers went on an absolute tear during the first three rounds of the postseason before sweeping the Boston Bruins in the Cup final. Wayne Gretzky, whom you may have heard of, set a Stanley Cup final record with 13 points (three goals, 10 assists) in just four contests en route to his second Conn Smythe Trophy.

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