The Philadelphia Flyers, with former star Bobby Clarke as general manager and Mike Keenan in his NHL coaching job, had the league's best record with 113 points to lead the Patrick Division. That put them 4 points ahead of the Edmonton Oilers, the defending Stanley Cup champions, who led the Smythe Division.
The Montreal Canadiens rose back to the top of the Adams Division by a 3-point margin over the Quebec Nordiques and the St. Louis Blues were also 3 points ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks in the Norris Division.
Edmonton's Wayne Gretzky set another record with 135 assists and led the NHL in scoring with 208 points. His linemate, Jari Kurri, was second with 135 points and Edmonton defenseman Paul Coffey finished fifth. With the lowly Pittsburgh Penguins, Mario Lemieux had an even 100 points to win the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year.
The Flyers won seven of eight games to get to the Wales Conference finals, where they beat the Quebec Nordiques in six games. Quebec had upset the Canadiens in a seven-game series for the Adams Conference championship.
Edmonton swept both Los Angeles and Winnipeg before beating the Blackhawks in the Campbell Conference finals.
The Flyers were a very young team, with 12 players who had less than three years of NHL experience, while this was the third straight Stanley Cup final for the Oilers. Philadelphia had home-ice advantage and won the first game with surprising ease, 4-1. But Edmonton then took over, outscoring the Flyers, 20-10, to take the next four games and close out the series.
Gretzky set yet another record with 47 points in just 18 playoff games, while Kurri tied Reggie Leach's record with 19 post-season goals. Gretzky won the Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the playoffs.