On March 23 in NYR history: Graves gets to 51 goals

6 Dec 1997: Adam Graves #9 of the New York Rangers during the Rangers 3-3 tie with the Montreal Canadiens at the Molson Center in Montreal, Canada. Mandatory Credit: Robert Laberge /Allsport
6 Dec 1997: Adam Graves #9 of the New York Rangers during the Rangers 3-3 tie with the Montreal Canadiens at the Molson Center in Montreal, Canada. Mandatory Credit: Robert Laberge /Allsport /

What happened on March 23 in the history of the New York Rangers

For years, the gold standard when it came to goal scoring was 50 goals in a season. There were the outliers like Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Phil Esposito and Brett Hull who reached astronomical totals , but when it came to the New York Rangers, 50 goals was the Holy Grail.   On this date in 1994,  Adam Graves not only reached the 50 goal mark, but he also took over as the greatest goal scorer in franchise history.

It was a 5-3 win over the Edmonton Oilers at the Northlands Coliseum. There was little doubt that Graves would get the record as he had reached 49 goals with 12 games left in the season.  On this night, Graves made quick work of the Rangers record of 50 goals, set by Vic Hadfield in 1972.  Grave scored the first two goals of the game to tie and then break Hadfield’s record.

Graves scored only one more goal in his last ten games to finish the season with 52, a new club record that would be surpassed by Jaromir Jagr’s 54 goals in 2006.

When Graves reached the 50 goal mark, it had been already reached 159 times in NHL history and eight players other than Graves scored 50 or more goals in 1993-94.

The first Calder Trophy

On this date in 1940, Kilby MacDonald of the Rangers was awarded the Calder Trophy as the top rookie in the NHL.  The left winger scored 15 goals and 28 points as a 25 year old and won best rookie honors as the Rangers went on to win the Stanley Cup.  His production dropped dramaticaly in his second year as he scored only five goals and had 11 points.   He then went to war,  joining the Canadian Army and didn’t come back to the NHL until 1943-44, rejoining the Rangers for two seasons before retiring.

Eight Rangers have won the Calder Trophy, the most recent Brian Leetch in 1989.

Fastest three goals

On this date in 1952, Bill Mosienko  of the Chicago Black Hawks scored three goals in only 21 seconds  against the Rangers, setting an NHL record that stands to this date.  The closest anyone has come is Montreal’s Jean Beliveau who scored three goals in 44 seconds in 1955.

The record setting performance was in a 7-6 win for Chicago at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers were cruising along with a 6-2 lead in the third period when Mosienko scored his hat trick.   Sid Finney scored two goals to put the Hawks ahead for good.

The Rangers’ franchise record for the fastest three goals belongs to Don Maloney, but it took him 150 seconds against Washington in February 1981. That’s the 21st fastest time in NHL history.

Two straight OT playoff losses

On this date in 1939, Mel Hill of Boston scored his second straight overtime goal as the Bruins won 3-2 at Boston Garden in Game Two of the Stanley Cup Semifinals.   The Rangers would extend the series to seven games before losing in sudden death overtime on a goal score by, you guessed it, Mel Hill.

Hill was a rookie that season and the Bruins went on to win the Cup, beating the Maple Leafs in the Finals in five games.

A coach fired

On this date in 1961, Alf Pike was relieved of his duties as Rangers coach and reassigned in the organization.  The team did not name a new coach immediately, saying that they had six candidates.   The firing came four days after the end of the season, the third straight season the Blueshirts had missed the playoffs.

Pike had taken over midway through the previous season when he replaced Phil Watson who had to step down due to ulcers.  Pike was ultimately replaced by Doug Harvey who served as player coach for the Rangers the following season.

Today’s birthdays

40 NHL players have been born on March 23 with four former Rangers among them.

Don Marshall was born on this date in 1932 in Montreal, Quebec.  The left winger played seven years with the Rangers after coming from Montreal in a 1963 blockbuster deal that saw Marshall, Jacques Plante and Phil Goyette coming to New York in exchange for Gump Worsley, Dave Balon, Leon Rochefort and Len Ronson.

A five time Cup winner with Montreal, Marshall was a consistent 20 goals scorer for New York and was a Second Team All-Star selection in 1967.   He played 14 years in the NHL, finishing his career in Buffalo and Toronto.

Wayne Presley was born on this date in 1965 in Dearborn, Michigan.  Presley was a right winger, more known for defense than scoring.  He was signed as a free agent in 1995 after ten years in the NHL. He played one season with the Rangers.

Charlie Sands was a forward, born on March 23, 1911 in Fort William, Ontario. He was loaned to the Rangers in the 1943-44 season and played only nine games with the Blueshirts.  He did play ten years in the NHL, winning a Stanley Cup in 1939 with the Bruins.

Hub Anslow was born on this date in 1926 in Pembroke, Ontario.  He made it to the Rangers as a 21-year-old in 1947 and played two games with the Blueshirts. It was his only appearance in the NHL and played the rest of his career in the minor leagues.

The numbers

A positive record for the Rangers on March 23.  Same for their playoff record.

Games: 27
Regulation wins: 13
Regulation losses: 13
Ties: 0
Overtime wins:  1
Points percentage: .518

Playoff games: 3
Wins: 2
Overtime losses: 1
Winning percentage: 67%

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