What happened on February 18 in the history of the New York Rangers
There have been many great scorers who have played for the Rangers. Hockey legends like Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Rod Gilbert, Jean Ratelle and numerous others have worn the Broadway Blueshirt. But it’s Steve Vickers who holds a franchise scoring record that has stood for over 40 years.
On this date in 1976, the fourth year left winger went out and scored seven points in one game, the most ever for anyone who has played for the New York Rangers.
Vickers had three goals and four assists as the Rangers blew out the Washington Capitals, 11-4 at Madison Square Garden. The line of Wayne Dillon, Rod Gilbert and Vickers had a total of 16 points in the game. Vickers had shaved his mustache in an effort to change the team’s luck. It worked.
Vickers broke the club record of six last achieved by Don Raleigh in 1951. Vickers was the 22nd NHL player to score as many as seven points in a game. It didn’t get major headlines as Darryl Sittler of the Maple Leaf has set the NHL record of 10 points in one game just 11 days earlier.
Mika Zibanejad tallied six points in a game twice last season, the closest a Ranger has come to the record in recent seasons.
First game at the new Garden
On this date, the World’s Most Famous saw its first hockey game as the Rangers beat the Philadelphia Flyers 3-1. Philadelphia’s Wayne Hicks scored the first goal ever at the arena while Bob Nevin was the first Ranger to score at the new Garden.
Coincidentally, this was the first game ever played in New York City by the expansion Flyers.
Since that date, the Rangers have played 2,081 games at the new Garden, with a record of 1,101-701-200 along with 79 overtime losses.
Bad day for coaches
There were two coaching changes on February 18 in franchise history. In 1969, Bernie Geoffrion stepped down as coach, replace by General Manager Emile Francis. Geoffrion wasn’t fired, he voluntarily gave up the job because he was plagued by ulcers.
In 1998 on this date, the Rangers fired Colin Campbell after almost four years on the job. Campbell had succeeded Mike Keenan in 1994 and presided over the decline of the Cup winning team. General Manager Neil Smith would go on to hire John Muckler to replace Campbell.
Sweeping the Islanders
On this date in 1973 the Ranger beat the Islanders 3-2 at Madison Square Garden. It meant a sweep of the six games against the expansion team and it was the closest of all six games. The Rangers outscored the Islanders 25-5 in the season series.
On February 18 in 1980, Gordie Howe played his last game against the New York Rangers. He was a member of the Hartford Whalers and they beat the Blueshirts 6-4. Howe was scoreless in his last game against the Blueshirts.
This also happened to be the first game ever played by the Rangers in the state of Connecticut. They had played the Whalers in December, but that game was played in Massachusetts because the Hartford arena wasn’t finished.
32 NHL players were born on February 18 with three former Rangers in that mix.
Dick Duff was a left winger born on this date in 1936 in Kirkland Lake, Ontario. He was a star scorer for the Toronto Maple Leafs and he won six Stanley Cups with the Leafs and Montreal Canadiens. The Rangers acquired him in a 1964 trade for Andy Bathgate, but he never liked playing in New York and he was swapped to Montreal within a year.
Playing in Montreal revitalized Duff and he was on four Cup winners in five years. He played only 43 games for the Rangers, putting up the worst offensive numbers of his career. Duff was induced into the Hall of Fame in 2006.
Kris King was a feisty left winger who was born on this date in 1966 in Bracebridge, Ontario. He played three and a half seasons with the Rangers and his 286 penalty minutes in 1989-90 was the second most for Ranger in any one season. He topped he 200 penalty minute mark twice in his time with New York. Three days after Christmas in 1992, King and Tie Domi were traded to Winnipeg for Eddie Olczyk.
Nik Antropov was born on this date in 1980 in Ust-Kamenogorsk, USSR. The center was a trade deadline acquisition in March2009. He played 18 games that season in New York, scoring seven goals and 13 points but he signed with Atlanta as a free agent that summer.
The Rangers have played 42 times on February 18 and are at .500 on the basis of success in extra time.
Regulation wins: 16
Regulation losses: 18
Overtime wins: 1
Overtime losses: 1
Shootout wins: 1
Points percentage: .500