What happened on February 16 in the history of the New York Rangers
The penalty shot is one of the rarest plays in the NHL. The New York Rangers have taken 83 penalty shots in their 95 year history, including playoffs. While the shootout has diminished some of the uniqueness of the one-on-one shooter versus goalie scenario, penalty shots still count as goals and are not part of a skills competition and are usually awarded as compensation for a scoring opportunity lost.
The unusual nature of the penalty shot makes what happened on this date in 1986 even more unique. On this date at Madison Square Garden the Rangers were awarded two penalty shots in the same game for the only time in franchise history. The shooters were Pierre Larouche and Mike Ridley and of course, they both missed.
Larouche’s attempt at 14:34 in the first period came as a result of Joe Kocur of the Wings covering the puck with his glove in the crease. Larouche’s attempt hit the right post. 38 seconds into the second period Detroit goalie Corrado Micalef threw his stick at a puck and Ridley was awarded the second penalty shot. Micalef made a pad save on that attempt.
The Rangers won the game anyway, defeating the Detroit Red Wings 3-1. Ironically, both Larouche and Ridley scored regulation goals in the game.
The penalty shots almost were lost in the fact that 178 minutes in penalties were handed out to the two teams. In the second period Ranger James Patrick took on Claude Loiselle, defenseman Reijo Ruotsalainen mixed it up with Micalef and Randy Ladouceur fought with Mark Pavelich although the Red Wing had a seven-inch height advantage. All were tossed from the game except the Red Wings goalie and they were joined in the third period by George McPhee of the Rangers who fought Lane Lambert.
Detroit was the worst team in the league and they used fisticuffs as a strategy, leading the league with 31 minutes of penalties per game. Brad Park was the Red Wings’ coach and had just come off a six-game suspension for sending his players from the bench to the ice during a brawl in Toronto.
For perspective, the Rangers were the third most penalized team in the NHL last year, averaging 10:05 penalty minutes per game. In 1986 the Wings led the NHL with 29:52 minutes per game and the team with the fewest was the Islanders who averaged 16:47 minutes per game. How times have changed.
The 178 minutes in penalties is not even close to the franchise record of 292 minutes totaled by the Rangers and Penguins in the 1988-89 season.
34 NHL players were born on February 16. Six of them were New York Rangers including a former coach who resides in the Hall of Fame.
Bernie “Boom Boom” Geoffrion was born on this date in 1931 in Montreal, Quebec. Known for his booming slapshot, he won two Art Ross scoring trophies in 14 years with the Canadiens. He ended his career in New York, playing two seasons with the Rangers, scoring 17 and five goals. . He retired after the 1967-68 season and was immediately appointed head coach of the Rangers, but lasted only 43 games, forced to quit because of ulcers.
Blair Betts was born on this date in 1980 in Edmonton, Alberta. He played four years as a depth center for the Rangers from 2005 to 2009. Betts excelled at penalty killing and was good on draws, but is best remembered for a hit he took from Donald Brashear in the first round of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He was blindsided by the Capitals’ enforcer and suffered a concussion and broke orbital bone. The referees missed the hit and Brashear was not penalized, but was later suspended six games by the NHL.
It was the memory of that hit that infuriated Ranger fans when Glen Sather signed Brashear as a free agent that summer.
Colin Forbes was a center born on this date in 1976 in New Westminster, British Columbia. He played 19 games in New York in 2000-01, scoring one goal. He played nine years in the NHL for five teams.
Peter McDuffe was a netminder who played seven games for the Rangers in the early 1970s. He was born on February 16 in 1948 in Milton, Ontario. He spent most of his career as Rangers property in the AHL getting into seven games with the Rangers and posting a 4-2-1 record. He was claimed by the Kansas City Scouts in the 1974 expansion draft.
Obs Heximer was a forward born on this date in 1910 in Niagara Falls, Ontario. He played 19 games for the Blueshirts in the 1929-30 season, scoring one goal. He also played for the Bruins and the New York Americans. He is the only Ranger named “Obs” in franchise history. His given name was Orville.
Peter Smrek was a defenseman born on this date in 1979 in Martin, Czechoslovakia. He played 22 games over two seasons for the Rangers, coming over in a trade from St. Louis. He left North America after the 2001-02 season and played in league in Europe for the next seven years.
The Rangers have played 33 games on February 16 and are one game below a.500 record.
Regulation wins: 14
Regulation losses: 15
Points percentage: .485