With Game 1 between the New York Rangers and Boston Bruins set for Thursday night, we take a look at seven cool and quirky facts involving these two Original Six clubs.
1) Rangers lose Cup to Bruins in 1972
Going into the 1972 post-season, the Rangers were one of the heavy favorites to win their first Stanley Cup since 1940. The team had the likes of Rod Gilbert, Jean Ratelle, Vic Hadfield, Brad Park, Eddie Giacomin and Gilles Villemure.
Unfortunately for the Rangers, Ratelle missed much of the playoffs due to injury and was not himself when the team took on the Bruins in the Cup final. With Ratelle off his game, the team had to worry about great players such as Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito, John Bucyk and putting the puck past netminder Gerry Cheevers.
The series ended up with the Bruins winning their second title in three years and the Rangers having to wait seven more seasons before returning to the Cup final.
2)Rangers get their revenge
After losing to the Bruins in 1972, the Rangers made the post-season again the following season and this time knocked the Bruins out in four games.
In that series, the Rangers outscored the Bruins by a 22-11 margin as the team got an excellent performance between the pipes from Ed Giacomin, He finished that post-season with five wins, a 2.56 goals-against average and one shutout.
Prior to this upcoming series, this was the last time the two teams met in the playoffs.
3) Bruins trade Phil Esposito to the Rangers
Back in the late 1960s and early 70s, Phil Esposito was one of the NHL’s greatest goal scorers.
Back then, it was hard to imagine trading someone like Esposito considering the size of the league but believe it or not, that is exactly what the Boston Bruins did.
On Nov. 7, 1975, the Bruins traded Esposito and defenceman Carol Vadnais to the Rangers for Ratelle and defencemen Brad Park and Joe Zanussi.
In an interview with NHL.com, Esposito said the following regarding the big trade:’
“I remember pulling on the sweater and thinking, ‘What is this? Where’s the spoked B and my No. 7?” Esposito said. “Prior to being traded, all I knew about New York was between 7th and 8th Avenues and 33rd and 34th Street, Madison Square Garden. We stayed at the hotel across the street and flew home on the shuttle after games. When I did learn the city, it was, oh my God, the greatest city and the greatest fans and we had some good years.”
Of course, Bruins fans can always laugh about this when thinking of the trade:
4) The Brawl in 1979
Being that both teams have been in the league for so long, they have a history that features a lot of great players, performances, and memorable moments that helped shape each hockey club.
There is one memorable moment that stands out as being the one that shows how competitive the two teams were and that when things got tough, they were ready to square down.
On Dec. 23, 1979 at Madison Square Garden, the two teams had a brawl for the ages. It all began when Esposito, who was a Ranger at the time, slammed his stick and went to the locker room after being stopped on a breakaway in the last few seconds of the game.
Shortly after that, Bruins left winger Al Secord punched Rangers forward Ulf Nilsson. A scrum ensued and while that was going on, a 30-year-old fan by the name of John Kaptain reached over the short glass on the Bruins’ bench and started hitting tough guy Stan Jonathan with his game program.
Then, the Bruins’ real tough guy, Terry O’Reilly, confronted the fan. O’Reilly recounted the following to The New York Times back in 2009:
“There was no way he was going to strike one of my teammates and steal his stick, wield it like a weapon and then disappear into the crowd and go to a local bar with a souvenir and a great story,” O’Reilly said. “As soon as I got him into a bearhug, I felt like I was being pummeled by multiple people. All I could do was cover up.”
5) Lundqvist robs the Bruins twice
By now, most hockey fans and pundits know that Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist is one of the beat goaltenders not only in the league, but in the entire world.
For one reason or another, Lundqvist has managed to have a lot of success against the Bruins. If you are a Bruins’ fan, you probably remember the way Lundqvist played in shutting out the team on Feb. 14, 2012,when he made 42 saves
While Lundqvist was absolutely terrific in that game, there is no doubt that the two saves he made below against the Bruins in 2007 and 2013, respectively, will go down as some of the best saves in Lundqvist’s entire career.
6) Mark Messier introduced as Rangers’ captain
The 1991-92 season was a special year for the Rangers.
New York finished first in the Patrick Division, first in the Prince of Wales Conference and first in the entire NHL. They may not have won a Stanley Cup but the Rangers were certainly more than a relevant club in the league and were ready to be powerful.
After the Bruins beat the Rangers to open the season, the Rangers knew they were ready for a big change. That change happened on Oct. 4, 1991, when the team acquired Mark Messier from the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for Bernie Nicholls, Steven Rice, Louie Debrusk and $15 million in cash.
A few days later, Messier was given the team captaincy in a ceremony at Madison Square Garden. After the on-ice ceremony, the Rangers went out and beat the Bruins in overtime on a goal by Mike Gartner.
Of course, the assist on the goal went the Rangers’ new captain.
7) Like Father, Like Son
Believe it or not, there’s some history between Bruins grinder Gregory Campbell and the New York Rangers.
Campbell grew up in Westchester County because his father, current director of hockey operations for the NHL, Colin Campbell, spent several years in the Rangers’ organization.
Campbell was an assistant coach with the team from 1991-1994 and served under head coaches Roger Nielson, Ron Smith, and Cup-winning coach Mike Keenan.
That all changed after 1994 as Campbell became the Rangers’ head coach and served in that capacity for three and a half seasons. Campbell was able to get the Rangers into the post-season in each of his years as a head coach and even got them to the Eastern Conference final back in 1997.
For Gregory and Campbell, this will be a homecoming series of sorts.