What happened on March 31 in the history of the New York Rangers
March 31 is a date late in the season and as a result, it’s a date that marks the last goals scored by two legendary players. In 2001, Adam Graves scores his last goal as New York Ranger in a 4-3 win over the Devils at the Meadowlands. It was the 280th goal of a ten year career as a Ranger.
Graves would go on to play two more seasons in the NHL with the San Jose Sharks, scoring 26 more goals. Although he was the winner of the Masterton Trophy that season he was traded to the Sharks over the summer for Mikael Samuelsson.
Three years later it was Mark Messier‘s turn to score his last goal, except that Messier scored the goal in his last NHL game. It was a 4-3 loss to Buffalo at Madison Square Garden and with a lockout looming, most of the Garden faithful had a hunch that this was his last game at home. It turned out to be his last game as he sat out the season finale four days later in Washington.
When Messier retired his 780 goals ranked seventh all-time (now ninth). 250 of those goals came as a New York Ranger.
A shot blocking record
On this date in 2015, Dan Girardi set a modern franchise record with 10 blocked shots in one game versus the Winnipeg Jets. He set the team record in Winnipeg in a 3-2 win over the Jets. The NHL began tracking blocked shots in the 2005-06 season and in that time, Girardi ranks fifth all-time with 1,954 blocked shots.
A playoff milestone (for Toronto)
On this date in 1942, the Rangers lost 3-2 to Toronto at Maple Leaf Gardens and were eliminated in their Stanley Cup Semi-FInals series in six games. What made the game notable was that it was Toronto’s 50th playoff win and they were the first NHL team to reach that milestone. The Rangers didn’t record their 50th playoff win until the 1950 Stanley Cup Final.
32 NHL players have been born on March 31. Four of them were New York Rangers and one resides in the Hall of Fame.
Pavel Bure was born on this date in 1971 in Moscow, USSR. The Russian Rocket was one of the greatest goal scorers in NHL history, forced to retired at age 31 due to bad knees. He played only one injury ridden season with the Rangers, but Blueshirt fans got a glimpse of his greatness as he scored 19 goals in 39 games on gimpy knees.
In his 12 year career, mostly with Vancouver, Bure scored 437 goals in 702 games, but Ranger fans best remember him for the goal he didn’t score. Mike Richter stopped Bure’s attempted penalty shot in the fourth game of the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals. Bure was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2012.
Brendan Bell was a defenseman who was born on this date in 1983 in Ottawa, Ontario. He is one of those players who played only one game with the Rangers, a game in October 2011. He did played 101 other games in the NHL for three other teams.
Bill Hicke was born on this date in 1938 in Regina, Saskatchewan. He was a right winger who played three season for the Rangers in the mid 1960s. He was traded to the Rangers from Montreal in 1964 and was claimed in the 1967 expansion draft from the Rangers by the California Seals. Hicke scored 18 goals in 137 games as a Ranger.
Fern Perreault was a left winger who was born on this date in 1927 in Chambly, Quebec. He made it to the NHL for three games over two seasons, all with the Rangers. He had a long career as a minor leaguer.
26 regular season games and three playoff games for the Rangers on March 31. They’ve had a lot of regular season success and are winless in the playoffs.
Regulation wins: 15
Regulation losses: 7
Overtime wins: 1
Overtime losses: 1
Shootout losses: 1
Points percentage: .673
Playoffs games: 3
Winning percentage: 0%