Monday, October 13, 2008

Rangers Time Machine: 1983

The 4-0 Rangers are off to their best start since they went 5-0 in 1983-84. With the Blueshirts battling the Devils tonight, let's turn the clock back and look at the team we are trying to match.

Here is how they got their five wins:

Game 1: 10/5/83 vs. New Jersey 6-2
Game 2: 10/7/83 vs. New Jersey 3-1
Game 3: 10/8/83 vs. Pittsburgh 6-1
Game 4: 10/10/83 vs. Los Angeles 2-1
Game 5: 10/13/83 vs. Washington 4-3

On that win over the Caps, Lawrie Mifflin wrote in the New York Times that "The Rangers are off to the best start in the team's 58-year history, thanks to a victory last night that set the Madison Square Garden crowd to roaring as if it were playoff time."

Mark Pavelich had two goals and an assist and Dave Maloney scored the game winner. There were also a pair of injuries in the game - New York's Mike Allison sprained his knee while Scott Stevens - yes, that Scott Stevens - suffered a charley horse. But the big deal apparently was the penalty kill. Where the current Rangers have killed off all 18 power plays through their first four games, the '83 Rangers killed 33 through five and scored four shorthanded goals to boot.

Thanks again to the Times for the info here - their archives are a treasure trove of wonderful info and stories; you just have to pay for it if you aren't a subscriber. I'm not, so that is all you get (it costs four bucks an article!).

Those aforementioned Caps, by the way, would get 101 points and featured three award winners: Bryan Murray won the Jack Adams, Rod Langway took the Norris and Doug Jarvis won the Selke. I still think the NHL needs to name a best defensive defenseman award after Langway, but that is another rant so let's move on to more facts about the Rangers:

*After losing the sixth game, a 6-5 barn-burner to St. Louis, the Blueshirts rattled off four more wins - including two over the evil Islanders.

*Herb Brooks (RIP) was starting his third full post-Miracle season as the Rangers head coach under his former assistant, Craig Patrick, who was the general manager.

*The man, the myth, the hair Ron Duguay left New York in the offseason in a trade to Detroit with Eddie Mio and Eddie Johnstone for Willie Huber, Mark Osborne and Mike Blaisdell. And O-Pee-Chee did a horrible job doctoring a photo of him to put him in a Red Wings jersey.

*Glen Hanlon made the transition from Mio's backup to the starter on Broadway. He played 50 games, going 28-14-4 with one shutout and a 3.51 g.a.a. I like to believe that we will get a better season out of our stopper this year.

*Pierre LaRouche was signed just before the 83-84 season started - September 12th - to provide some scoring. He would go on to finish second in team scoring, one point behind Pavelich with 81 through 77 regular season games.

*Not a single player picked in the 83 draft made the roster, but rookies Peter Sundstrom and Jan Erixon both made the team. Youngsters James Patrick and John Vanbiesbrouck even got looks but would not see regular action until the next season.

*Brian Leetch was still several years away so it was Tom Laidlaw who was the Ranger blueliner wearing the No. 2 jersey on the cover of that $2.50 program.

*Eight of the current New York Rangers team had yet to be born. Oh man do I feel old.

Well, the Rangers lost in the second round of the 1983 playoffs four games to two to the Islanders, who went on to win their fourth and final Stanley Cup. The '84 postseason saw the Rangers bounced in the first round by - who else - the Isles. The Blueshirts blew a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series and lost the clincher 3-2 in overtime. Thankfully the Isles would go on to fall in the Finals to Gretzky's Oilers in the birth of another dynasty.

Here's to hoping we don't face the Islanders in the playoffs this year and, as always, Let's Go Rangers!

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