So even accepting Messier > Shanahan which kills me, and Dryden > Belfour which I agree with, I win 4 of 6.
That is pure and simple crazy talk. Hull scored more goals than Trottier, but I wouldn't call him a better player by any means. And I have no problem saying Pilote is at least as good as Pronger, and I could argue better; like Pronger, Pilote was one of the best defensemen of his era.
And your Niedermeyer love is well-documented. And he's a Hall of Famer no doubt. But I'd just as soon have MacInnis.
I think this matchup sucks this early, because I could see both winning it or deserving of the final four. I have incredible respect for Beliveau and Richard.
So let me explain why I chose this particular lineup. It is not just a collection of stars, but was created to support Bobby Orr.
Bob Gainey is generally accepted as the best defensive forward in hockey history. Sergei Fedorov is the only player to win the Hart and Selke in the same season. Dit Clapper, as my "power forward" was an all star at both forward and defense. They will create havoc with forechecking the defense, interrupting my opponents transition game, and creating turnovers, yielding increased odd-man rushes. Leaving aside offense, Orr and Lidstrom are both in the argument for best pure defensive defensemen of all time. Rocket Richard is not going to see open ice against this lineup, and is going to be asked to stay with Orr for the entire length of the ice.
In transition, remember that you're now asking Richard and Anderson - not known for their defense - to either cover Orr or limit Lidstrom's breakout passes. Fedorov's speed and puckhandling is a perfect complement to Orr rushing up the ice. Gainey and Clapper are rugged and basically need to go to the net or get open for the inevitable mismatches caused by Orr rushing up the ice.
Two final notes:
Bernie Parent is a Hall of Famer, but his two-year run in 73-75 might be the best two year run in goaltending history. Two Cups, Two Conn Smythes, Two Vezinas, Two season of leading the league in wins, GAA, and shutouts.
No man was every more respected on the ice than Dit Clapper. He once punched a ref. In the face. On the ice. In the playoffs. When he was called in front of the commissioner along with the ref, the ref actually argued on behalf of Clapper, saying "I had it coming". Clapper was not suspended for punching a ref in the face.
This is one of two polls I waited to vote on, as I went back and forth on it. And it really was close for both votes.
At the end of the day, what matters is Pure Skill vs Red Death, and it comes down to chemistry and matchups. Red Death probably has more built-in chemistry than any other lineup in the showdown... and Pure Skill might have negative chemistry. Furthermore, I'd be confident of an all Russian lineup matching up with their fellow Russian wingers Ovechkin and Mogilny. I will say that Brad Park is a very underrated player, and I had him high on my draft board, but he's not enough. Red Death gets the vote to extend their lead.