On May 15 in NYR history: 2 tough playoff losses

What happened on May 15 in the history of the New York Rangers

On this date in 1979, the Rangers took to the ice at the Montreal Forum sporting a 1-0 lead in their Final series with the Canadiens.  The Cinderella Rangers had won the first game on the road 4-1 and were looking to take a commanding 2-0 lead or at least go back to Madison Square Garden with the series tied.

Ranger fans were pinching themselves after the Blueshirts took a 2-0 lead on goals by Anders Hedberg and Ron Duguay just 6:21 into the first period.  It was all downhill from there.  The Habs countered with three first period goals, added two more in the second and an insurance goal in the third for a 6-2 win.  The Canadiens won the next three games, taking the series in five games.

There a couple of totally valid excuses for the Rangers loss.  Blueshirts goalie John Davidson had a bad knee that he aggravated in the Islanders series.  He had to undergo surgery after the playoffs and his mobility was affected.

An even better excuse was the Montreal goaltending situation.  The Rangers had chased Hall of Famer netminder Ken Dryden in the first game of the series and the Canadiens had committed to using backup Michel “Bunny” Larocque.   In pregame warmups before Game Two, Larocque was hit in the head by a shot from teammate Doug Risebrough and Habs coach Scotty Bowman had to turn back to Dryden.

Dryden was on the verge of retiring at age 31 after winning the Vezina Trophy for the fourth straight year and he shut the door on the Rangers last time as he ended his career as a champion.

The first game of an epic series

On this date in 1994, the Rangers met the Devils in Game One of what  many consider the greatest playoff series of all time.  They teams got off to auspicious start with the Devils winning 4-3 in double overtime at Madison Square Garden.

It was a heartbreaking loss for the Blueshirts as they allowed the Devils to tie the score on a Claude Lemieux goal with 43 seconds left in the game and the goalie pulled, to force overtime.  It took two overtime periods, but Stephane Richer won the game for the Devils at 15:23 of the second OT.

Richer scored on a rush with defenseman Jeff Beukeboom trapped up ice.  The only defender back was forward Adam Graves and Richer beat him and then put the puck past Mike Richter who had stopped 44 shots.

It was the first of three games in the series to go double overtime.

Today’s birthdays

28 NHL players have been born on May 15. including four former Rangers.

Pat Hickey was born on this date in 1953 in Brantford, Ontario.  Drafted in 1973 by the Rangers, Hickey instead signed with the  Toronto Toros of the WHA where he played for two seasons. He finally signed with the Rangers and made his debut in the 1975-76 season.   The left wing was a top forward for the Blueshirts, scoring 40, 34 and 31 goals in successive seasons.  He was traded to Colorado in 1979 in the blockbuster deal for Barry Beck.  He played six more seasons in the NHL including a return to New York for one season in 1981.   His brother Greg played one game for the Rangers as a teammate in 1978.

Nick Holden  was born  on this date in 1987 in St. Albert, Alberta.  After five years in the NHL with Columbus and Colorado, he was traded to the Rangers for a draft pick. The defenseman played two seasons in New York, before being traded to Boston at the deadline in 2018 as part of the rebuild.  The draft pick the Rangers got was used to select Joey Keane who was traded for Julien Gauthier.  Holden has been a semi-regular for the Vegas Golden Knights for the last three seasons.

Jim Hiller was a right winger who played two games for the Rangers in the 1993-94 season. He was born on this date in 1969 in Port Alberni, British Columbia .  He played 63 games in the NHL for the Kings, Red Wings and Rangers.

Bill Boyd was a right winger who was born on this date in 1898 in Belleville, Ontario.  He was a member of the original New York Rangers team of 1926-27, playing 44 games and was also with the Rangers when they won their first Stanley Cup in 1928, playing in all nine playoff games.  He was claimed by the New York Americans in the intra-league draft and played one season before finishing his career in the minor leagues.

The numbers

Playoff games: 2
Wins: 0
Losses: 1
Overtime losses: 2
Winning percentage: 0%