Gretzky's greatest play?

Discussion in 'Edmonton Oilers' started by Cloned, May 25, 2020.

  1. Cloned Qurious Quincie

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    I also posted this in the History of Hockey forum. There are some great responses there if you want to check it out:

    Gretzky's greatest play?

    --

    Completely subjective obviously, and there is a LOT to choose from, but for me, this takes the cake:



    At 6:51.

    It doesn't look so "great" or flashy at first.

    For context:

    It was Game 7 against the hated rival Flames in the 1984 Division Finals. This was the playoffs after the Oilers had lost to the Islanders in the Cup Final the year before. There was a lot of talk that the Oilers (and Gretzky) just weren't capable of winning on the biggest stage.

    The Oilers had stormed out to a 2-0 lead in the game, only to watch the Flames come back and tie it 2-2. The Oilers went ahead 3-2, and really had dominated most of the game, but Andy Moog (in the first of many shaky playoff performances) and some iffy defensive coverages gave up the lead and the Flames were leading 4-3 halfway through the second period.

    Nail biting time at Northlands. Would the offensive juggernaut Oilers once again be undone in the playoffs by a hard working, blue collar effort and subpar goaltending and defense?

    Gretzky decided enough was enough and he worked his literal ass off on this goal. I'm not even sure how he managed to do what he did. He very sneakily gets body position on the defender, stick checks him, deflects the puck loose into the offensive zone. At this point he's barely still on his skates as he's fighting through the defender. He somehow maintains his balance two or three times, keeps the puck in the zone with two incredible stick moves, and THEN somehow sees Anderson open coming into the zone (while he's spinning around no less) and feeds him with a perfect backhand pass between two defenders. Anderson, the clutch playoff scorer he was, does the rest.

    It all happens so fast you can't even process the number of things he did to setup that goal. But you see almost everything that made him a generational player. The sneaky stick work to strip the puck. The incredible agility and edge work to get him into the zone with the puck. The ridiculous balance and body control. The awesome anticipation and vision. The mental processing of the game and the fact that he knew what he needed to do 2-3 moves ahead of everyone else. And the hands, good lord the hands. Those who didn't watch Gretzky live sometimes think it is an exaggeration to say that he was near impossible to hit in his prime. This play shows just how difficult it was to hit him, even if he was moving nowhere near full speed and you had very little separation between him and the defender. And most of all he has complete and total command of the puck. He knows where it is at all times during this play, and you can make an argument he was mostly toying with the defenders here, which is ridiculous considering the situation.

    On the replay you can actually see the Oilers bench stand up anticipating something good would happen as Gretzky works his magic just inside the blue line. Most hockey players in that situation are just looking to survive - saw off the puck battle, maybe chop the puck deep into the zone and go for a line change. Gretzky takes less than a second to realize what he needs to do to create a scoring chance and he does it with authority and confidence. Everything he does in this play looks so natural to him.

    If you were a Flames player sitting on the bench thinking that you had a chance to actually win this game and this series, and you saw him just do that ... everybody in the arena knew it was only a matter of time once Anderson scored that goal.

    That goal opened up the floodgates and the Oilers would go on to have a massive period. If Gretzky doesn't make that play, who knows what would have happened? If the Oilers lose that game and that series, does Glen Sather make significant changes to the roster? That was a critical play at a critical time against the team's strongest natural rival, and my candidate for his greatest play.
     
  2. tardigrade81 Registered User

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    Soooooo many. It’s hard to count.

    His 17 points in the 78 world juniors has to count for something though. Pretty amazing.
     
  3. Draiskull Registered User

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    THE highstick on Gilmore?
     
  4. snipes Registered User

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    This no look pass to Kurri always comes to mind.

     
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  5. Bryanbryoil Moderator

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    Pure filth!
     
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  6. Shibumi Registered User

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    Gretzky's overtime goal against Vernon.
     
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  7. brentashton Registered User

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    Dirty hands and sense
     
  8. Stoneman89 Registered User

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    Reggie Lemelin was the Oilers personal beotch and punching bag.
     
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  9. McFlash97 Registered User

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    People often forget just how good he was with a stick and a puck just because of his insane hockey IQ. This was a 215 + point player playing chess versus a bunch of players playing snakes and ladders.
     
  10. Gordian Knot Registered User

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    He could keep puck outside of the reach of defenders so easily. In that clip it first looks he loses puck to boards but when you look closer he pushes puck towards the board and it bounces right back to G with right time. It was on purpose. Player needs to be exraordinary good to do those things.

    Personally I love his slap shot goals.
     
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  11. GreatKeith Tearing Through Heaven

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  12. Cloned Qurious Quincie

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    He had a Top 5 slapshot all time. Probably one of his most underrated generational skills. Accuracy nearly unmatched, he could pick all four corners of the net in his sleep.

    Yeah, the goaltending wasn't great in that era, but you didn't see anyone else scoring the crazy amount of slapshot goals he did.

    And that slapshot goal against Vernon in the playoffs pretty much beats any goaltender in any era.
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2020
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  13. snipes Registered User

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    His slap shot was so accurate. He could pick corners like no one else, goalies had no clue which of the 4 corners he was going to shoot at.

    Another thing he did really well was change his shooting angles often mid shot.
     
  14. Paperbagofglory Registered User

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    His greatest play was orchestrating the trade to LA while predending to be surprised when it happened.
     
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  15. tazzy19 Registered User

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    This play is pretty much poetry in motion. It didn't result in a goal, but it's just one of those plays where you sit back and watch, and you realize Gretzky must of understood the matrix in a way no one else did. Everyone else is stuck in normally perceived reality (slow motion to him), and he's just playing around with the space/time of the matrix...

     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2020
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  16. joestevens29 Registered User

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    Going in for a kiss on Janet, only to be rejected. Now I don't feel so bad if the ladies turn me down in public. If it can happen to the great one it can happen to me.
     
  17. tazzy19 Registered User

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    Despite the cheesy music, here are some up close and slowed down moments of Gretzky's omnipresent genius...

     
  18. Scoopie Registered User

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    On the Flames and the Bruins.
     
  19. subnet 5-14-6-1 Sponsor

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    As one of the resident 'old farts' here on this board (not quite as old as Rep/@Drivesaitl... lol), man, we were so lucky to have seen #99 and the rest of the crew. We knew it at the time, but many took it for granted just how talented they were and how blessed we were.

    The amazing vision Gretzky had. The incredible mix of talent and chemistry we had. It was special (as said in #97's monotone).

    The game has changed so much, yet we are just so lucky to have an incredible talent in #97 (and #29 of course). I can't wait for whenever we can start cheering again - down with the lowly Flames and Go Oil!
     
  20. tazzy19 Registered User

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    This one is crazy considering the Chicago Blackhawks thought they had stopped Gretzky’s 51 game scoring streak in game 44 with seconds left in the game. What blows me away about this play is Gretzky’s almost Jedi approach toward Troy Murray: It seems Murray has complete control of the puck with several passing options open (including up the boards on his side of the ice), but Gretzky causes Murray to cough it up exactly to where he wants him to cough it up. Gretzky — all in one motion — bats the puck out of the air with his stick, knocks it down with his glove, and skates fluidly into the area he knows all of this will go without even breaking stride...because, it would seem, Gretzky is the one who is directing this Jedi next level stuff...like he’s using the force and willing it to happen... Funny enough, this is the play that ends up giving him the longest scoring streak ever, as it would have eventually been Lemieux with 46 games otherwise...

    (Note: the video caption says game 46, but it’s actually game 44; correct me if I’m wrong.)

     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2020
  21. Cloned Qurious Quincie

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    It's a simple hockey play, he baits Murray to try the cross-ice pass by holding his stick out to one side (the boards side) before quickly switching it over to the other side of his body to intercept the pass.

    What's great about it is the anticipation and the execution, because as you said, he knocks the puck out of the air with his stick and simultaneously gloves it down as he is crossing the blue line.
     
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  22. tazzy19 Registered User

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    It might be a simple play (at least, initially, as you say), but what makes this play special to me is the context and significance of it combined with the deft execution and almost controlled inevitability of it. So remarkably calm under the extreme pressure of continuing the streak...with seconds remaining.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2020
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  23. Fourier Registered User

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    Funny thing about Gretzky, as many incredible things that he did some of his best games he was often unnoticeable. So much of what he did was away from the play or very very subtle. I remember speaking to people after they saw Gretzky live for the first time and they were "not impressed" even though he have had a 4 point night and with a little luck it could have been 7 or 8. He just generated chance after chance. In one of the Canada Cup games he had something like 27 chances generated.

    This is partly why watching old replays does not give you a full sense of how good he was. The camera often missed the things he would do to get things started.
     
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  24. BigFuzzyDice C/P Suicide Hotline Operator

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    Ha when I saw the thread title the first thing that popped in my head was " I told mess I wasnt gonna do this " sniffle.
     
  25. tazzy19 Registered User

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    Your point that he had the ability to not look "impressive" to the untrained eye is so true. There are numerous games on YouTube where the announcer at the end of the game says something like, "We must confess, we were all asking where is Gretzky tonight, and here he is just scoring his 5th point of the night..." Here are a couple examples of Gretzky scoring 5 points (in on every goal for his team) where the announcers all say pretty much exactly that at the end of the game:





     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2020
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