1987–88 NHL season

The 1987–88 NHL season was the 71st season of the National Hockey League. It was an 80-game season with the top four teams in each division advancing to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. This season would see the Edmonton Oilers win their fourth Stanley Cup in five years by sweeping the Boston Bruins 4–0[1] in the Stanley Cup Final. In the process of their cup win, Edmonton lost only two games, a record for the "16 wins" playoff format.

1987–88 NHL season
LeagueNational Hockey League
SportIce hockey
DurationOctober 8, 1987 – May 26, 1988
Number of games80
Number of teams21
Top draft pickPierre Turgeon
Picked byBuffalo Sabres
Regular season
Presidents' TrophyCalgary Flames
Season MVPMario Lemieux (Penguins)
Top scorerMario Lemieux (Penguins)
Eastern championsBoston Bruins
  Eastern runners-upNew Jersey Devils
Western championsEdmonton Oilers
  Western runners-upDetroit Red Wings
Playoffs MVPWayne Gretzky (Oilers)
Stanley Cup
ChampionsEdmonton Oilers
  Runners-upBoston Bruins

League business

The NHL introduced a new trophy, the King Clancy Memorial Trophy, which was to be awarded to the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and who has made a significant humanitarian contribution in his community.

Regular season

This was Wayne Gretzky's final season with the Edmonton Oilers and, as injuries held him out of 20% of the season, this would be the only season of the decade in which he was not the winner of the Hart Memorial Trophy and the first season since 1979-80 that he didn't hold or share the league lead in points. Mario Lemieux would capture his first Hart Trophy and lead the league in scoring.

On December 7, Ron Hextall of the Philadelphia Flyers became the first goalie to directly score a goal, shooting the puck into an open net.

On December 19, the St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins combined to score two goals in two seconds. The Bruins were trailing 6-4 in the third period when Ken Linseman scored with 10 seconds remaining, followed by Blues center Doug Gilmour scoring off the resulting faceoff into an empty net.[2]

The New Jersey Devils qualified for the playoffs for the first time.

Final standings

Prince of Wales Conference

Adams Division
Montreal Canadiens80452213298238103
Boston Bruins804430630025194
Buffalo Sabres8037321128330585
Hartford Whalers803538724926777
Quebec Nordiques803243527130669


Patrick Division
New York Islanders8039311030826788
Philadelphia Flyers803833929229285
Washington Capitals803833928124985
New Jersey Devils803836629529682
New York Rangers8036341030028382
Pittsburgh Penguins803635931931681


Clarence Campbell Conference

Norris Division
Detroit Red Wings8041281132226993
St. Louis Blues803438827829476
Chicago Blackhawks803041928432869
Toronto Maple Leafs8021491027334552
Minnesota North Stars8019481324234951


Smythe Division
Calgary Flames8048239397305105
Edmonton Oilers8044251136328899
Winnipeg Jets8033361129231077
Los Angeles Kings803042831835968
Vancouver Canucks802546927232059


Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, Pts = Points, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against
Note: Teams that qualified for the playoffs are highlighted in bold.


Playoff bracket

  Division Semifinals Division Finals Conference Finals Stanley Cup Finals
A1 Montreal 4  
A4 Hartford 2  
  A1 Montreal 1  
  A2 Boston 4  
A2 Boston 4
A3 Buffalo 2  
  A2 Boston 4  
Prince of Wales Conference
  P4 New Jersey 3  
P1 NY Islanders 2  
P4 New Jersey 4  
  P4 New Jersey 4
  P2 Washington 3  
P2 Washington 4
P3 Philadelphia 3  
  A2 Boston 0
  S2 Edmonton 4
N1 Detroit 4  
N4 Toronto 2  
  N1 Detroit 4
  N2 St. Louis 1  
N2 St. Louis 4
N3 Chicago 1  
  N1 Detroit 1
Clarence Campbell Conference
  S2 Edmonton 4  
S1 Calgary 4  
S4 Los Angeles 1  
  S1 Calgary 0
  S2 Edmonton 4  
S2 Edmonton 4
S3 Winnipeg 1  

Stanley Cup Finals

Game four is well known for fog that interfered with the game, and a power outage that caused the game to be cancelled at 16:37 of the second period with the score tied 3–3.

When the Oilers won the replayed game four, they started the tradition in which the champs gather around with the Cup in a team photo.

Edmonton won series 4–0
  • NHL disregards stats from May 24 incomplete game.


1987-88 NHL awards
Stanley CupEdmonton OilersBoston Bruins
Presidents' Trophy
(Best regular season record)
Calgary FlamesMontreal Canadiens
Prince of Wales Trophy
(Wales Conference champion)
Boston BruinsNew Jersey Devils
Clarence S. Campbell Bowl
(Campbell Conference champion)
Edmonton OilersDetroit Red Wings
Art Ross Trophy
(Player with most points)
Mario Lemieux (Pittsburgh Penguins)Wayne Gretzky (Edmonton Oilers)
Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy
(Perseverance, Sportsmanship, and Dedication)
Bob Bourne (Los Angeles Kings)N/A
Calder Memorial Trophy
(Best first-year player)
Joe Nieuwendyk (Calgary Flames)Darren Pang (Chicago Blackhawks)
Ray Sheppard (Buffalo Sabres)
Conn Smythe Trophy
(Most valuable player, playoffs)
Wayne Gretzky (Edmonton Oilers)N/A
Emery Edge Award
(Best plus-minus statistic)
Brad McCrimmon (Calgary Flames)N/A
Frank J. Selke Trophy
(Defensive forward)
Guy Carbonneau (Montreal Canadiens)Jan Erixon (New York Rangers)
Steve Kasper (Boston Bruins)
Hart Memorial Trophy
(Most valuable player, regular season)
Mario Lemieux (Pittsburgh Penguins)Grant Fuhr (Edmonton Oilers)
Wayne Gretzky (Edmonton Oilers)
Jack Adams Award
(Best coach)
Jacques Demers (Detroit Red Wings)Terry Crisp (Calgary Flames)
Jean Perron (Montreal Canadiens)
James Norris Memorial Trophy
(Best defenseman)
Ray Bourque (Boston Bruins)Scott Stevens (Washington Capitals)
Gary Suter (Calgary Flames)
King Clancy Memorial Trophy
(Leadership and humanitarian contribution)
Lanny McDonald (Calgary Flames)Wayne Gretzky (Edmonton Oilers)
Bryan Trottier (New York Islanders)
Lady Byng Memorial Trophy
(Sportsmanship and excellence)
Mats Naslund (Montreal Canadiens)Wayne Gretzky (Edmonton Oilers)
Joe Nieuwendyk (Calgary Flames)
Lester B. Pearson Award
(Outstanding player)
Mario Lemieux (Pittsburgh Penguins) N/A
Vezina Trophy
(Best goaltender)
Grant Fuhr (Edmonton Oilers)Tom Barrasso (Buffalo Sabres)
Kelly Hrudey (New York Islanders)
William M. Jennings Trophy
(Goaltender(s) of team with fewest goals against)
Patrick Roy and Brian Hayward (Montreal Canadiens)N/A
Lester Patrick Trophy
(Service to ice hockey in U.S.)
Keith Allen, Fred Cusick, and Bob JohnsonN/A

All-Star teams

First Team  Position  Second Team
Grant Fuhr, Edmonton Oilers G Patrick Roy, Montreal Canadiens
Ray Bourque, Boston Bruins D Gary Suter, Calgary Flames
Scott Stevens, Washington Capitals D Brad McCrimmon, Calgary Flames
Mario Lemieux, Pittsburgh Penguins C Wayne Gretzky, Edmonton Oilers
Hakan Loob, Calgary Flames RW Cam Neely, Boston Bruins
Luc Robitaille, Los Angeles Kings LW Michel Goulet, Quebec Nordiques

Player statistics

Scoring leaders

Note: GP = Games played; G = Goals; A = Assists; Pts = Points, PIM = Penalties in minutes, PPG = Powerplay Goals, SHG = Shorthanded Goals, GWG = Game Winning Goals

Player Team GP G A Pts PIM +/- PPG SHG GWG
Mario LemieuxPittsburgh Penguins77709816892+2322107
Wayne GretzkyEdmonton Oilers644010914924+39953
Denis SavardChicago Blackhawks80448713195+41476
Dale HawerchukWinnipeg Jets80447712159-92034
Luc RobitailleLos Angeles Kings80535811182-91706
Peter StastnyQuebec Nordiques76466511169+22002
Mark MessierEdmonton Oilers773774111103+211237
Jimmy CarsonLos Angeles Kings80555210745-192207
Hakan LoobCalgary Flames80505610647+41984
Michel GouletQuebec Nordiques80485810656-312914

Source: NHL.[4]

Leading goaltenders

GP = Games played; Min = Minutes played; W = Wins; L = Losses; T = Ties; SO = Shutouts; GAA = Goals against average; Sv% = Save percentage

Goalie Team GP Min W L T SO GAA Sv%
Grant FuhrEdmonton Oilers7543044024943.4388.1
Mike VernonCalgary Flames6435653916713.5387.7
Ron HextallPhiladelphia Flyers6235613022703.588.6
Mike LiutHartford Whalers6035322528523.1888.5
John VanbiesbrouckNew York Rangers5633192722723.3889.0
Daniel BerthiaumeWinnipeg Jets5630102219723.5188.2
Ken WreggetToronto Maple Leafs5630001235424.4487.0
Tom BarrassoBuffalo Sabres5431332518823.3189.6
Mario GosselinQuebec Nordiques5430022028423.7886.7
Clint MalarchukWashington Capitals5429262420443.1688.5

Source: Quanthockey.com[5]


Patrick Division

Adams Division

Norris Division

Smythe Division



The following is a list of players of note who played their first NHL game in 1987–88:

Last games

The following is a list of players of note that played their last game in the NHL in 1987–88:


  • Ron Hextall, Philadelphia Flyers, First goaltender in NHL history to shoot and score a goal.

Trading deadline

  • Trading Deadline: March 8, 1988[6]
  • March 8, 1988: Charlie Bourgeois and Hartford's third round choice in 1989 Entry Draft traded from St. Louis to Hartford for Hartford's second round choice in 1989 Entry Draft.
  • March 8, 1988: Geoff Courtnall, Bill Ranford and future considerations traded from Boston to Edmonton for Andy Moog.
  • March 8, 1988: Brian Curran traded from NY Islanders to Toronto for Toronto's sixth round choice in 1988 Entry Draft.
  • March 8, 1988: Moe Lemay traded from Edmonton to Boston for Alan May.
  • March 8, 1988: Jim Pavese traded from NY Rangers to Detroit for future considerations.
  • March 8, 1988: Gordie Roberts traded from Philadelphia to St. Louis for future considerations.
  • March 8, 1988: Steve Tsujuira traded from New Jersey to Boston for Boston's 10th round choice in 1988 Entry Draft (Alexander Semak).
  • March 8, 1988: Steve Weeks traded from Hartford to Vancouver for Richard Brodeur.

Hat Tricks

Greg Conlan scored his 3rd hat trick of the season midway through period 2 of the final game of regular season.

Sargeant Feffer scored 2 goals and also fought arch nemesis Lenny Shindig thrice in the first game of the regular season.

See also


  • Diamond, Dan, ed. (2000). Total Hockey. Kingston, NY: Total Sports. ISBN 1-892129-85-X.
  • Dinger, Ralph, ed. (2011). The National Hockey League Official Guide & Record Book 2012. Toronto, ON: Dan Diamond & Associates. ISBN 978-1-894801-22-5.
  • Dryden, Steve, ed. (2000). Century of hockey. Toronto, ON: McClelland & Stewart Ltd. ISBN 0-7710-4179-9.
  • Fischler, Stan; Fischler, Shirley; Hughes, Morgan; Romain, Joseph; Duplacey, James (2003). The Hockey Chronicle: Year-by-Year History of the National Hockey League. Lincolnwood, IL: Publications International Inc. ISBN 0-7853-9624-1.
  1. The original fourth game was cancelled (score was tied) while in progress, due to a rink electrical outage. The original fourth game stats weren't counted. The fourth game was rescheduled and replayed.
  2. "Etched in Stone: The Top 20 Most Unbreakable Records in NHL History". Bleacherreport.com. Retrieved June 4, 2012.
  3. Dinger, Ralph, ed. (2011). The National Hockey League Official Guide & Record Book 2012. Dan Diamond & Associates. p. 153. ISBN 9781894801225.
  4. Dinger 2011, p. 153.
  5. NHL Goaltender Leaders During 1987-88 Season | QuantHockey.com
  6. NHL trade deadline: Deals since 1980 | Habs Inside/Out Archived February 16, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
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