Latest posts by Dave Rogers (see all)
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This one is going to sting, fellow Rangers’ fans. So if you are enjoying one of the last few nice summer days, no one is going to fault you for turning off your phone or closing the browser tab right now. But it is summer, there’s not much going on in the hockey world, much less for the Rangers and I am tasked with racking up some page views here at Cleared for Contact. What better way, then, for an increasingly dark trip down the rabbit hole of some of the most painful seconds in Rangers’ history since the 2004/2005 season was lost to a lockout and the new modern era of NHL hockey began?
That is enough lead up, I think. You get the picture and you’ve been warned. Let’s get right to it then. To start us off on our count down, we have…
#10 Massacre de Montréal
The Rangers’ were having an easy night in a hostile environment. Chris Drury (remember that name) scored about 5:00 into the second period to give the Rangers a 5-0 lead. A few minutes later, Michael Ryder would pot a seemingly meaningless goal to get the Canadiens on the board. It would not be the last. The Rangers were powerless to stop a surge that seemed destined, with each goal, to climb Montreal out of the ditch on the way to an improbable victory. This list is about pain. How about a goal by former Ranger Alex Kovalev tying the game with under 5:00 to go in the third period?
#9 Brown Downs Rangers with Just the Tip
This might be the biggest goal in recent Rangers’ history that you don’t even remember. A lot of that has to do with a goal later in this list, but at the time, this one really shook Rangers’ fans. After squandering 2-0, 3-1 and 4-2 leads in the game, two goals against in the third period tied this one up for the Kings. Had the Rangers held on at any point, they would have brought the series back to Madison Square Garden all tied up. They managed to hold on through the first overtime, but halfway through the second, Dustin Brown tipped the winner past Henrik Lundqvist, giving the Kings a 2-0 lead in the series.
#8 Rangers Got Hossa’ed on OT Offside Goal
Some of this list will be affected by recency bias. Had this goal against occurred last year, it might be much lower on this list. While this one is a matter of interpretation, if you asked any Rangers’ fan at the time, you would have been told that Pascal Dupuis was definitely offside prior to Marian Hossa burying this goal that would end the Rangers’ season.
I am not a fan of conspiracy theories. I don’t believe that refs try to decide games, nor do I think the league is pulling for any team over another. But that series saw more than it’s fair share of questionable calls and non-calls that seemed to benefit the Penguins over the Rangers, including the next goal against on my list.
#7 Crosby Dives, Malkin Scores
A common theme in this list is going to be the Rangers squandering leads. After being up 3-0 almost halfway through game one of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, the Penguins would answer with four straight tallies to pull ahead. Scott Gomez would tie the game part way through the third period setting up what should have been an epic finish. That is until the refs inexplicably forgot the NHL’s unwritten rule which states you bury the whistle late in tied playoff games unless someone’s uncontrollable bleeding from the face. What makes matters worse is that the interference call against Martin Straka was largely viewed as the result of a Sidney Crosby dive. That “penalty” would lead to the Evgeni Malkin power play goal to gift the Penguins game one of the series.
#6 Fedorov Wins… Fatality!
After a seventh place finish in the Eastern Conference, the 2008/09 New York Rangers were not likely winning the Stanley Cup. They were in a transition, being lead in scoring by Nikolay Zherdev (remember him?) as they moved on past the Jaromir Jagr years. Still, when you force a game seven against the second best team in the East and are tied with around 5:00 to go in the third, you can be forgiven if you start to daydream about that next goal. That sweet fantasy turned to realistic nightmare as future Hall-of-Famer Sergei Fedorov streaked down the right wing and snapped a shot through Wade Redden and over Lundqvist’s shoulder to score what would be the series winner.
#5 Palat’s All, Folks
A goal to put the opposing team up by two with a little over eight minutes to go in a game does not end the contest by any means. At least, usually. Back in 2015 against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the postseason, though, it had the feeling of an empty net goal against just as time expires. In the two prior games at Madison Square Garden against the Lightning, the Rangers had been outscored 8-2 including a 2-0 shutout in their previous meeting. That second Tampa goal ended the Rangers’ playoff run and most Rangers’ fans watched the final minutes knowing that this might be the last good kick at the can they would get for a while, as their third trip to the third round or beyond came to skidding halt at the side of the road to the Stanley Cup.
#4 Pageau, Pageau, Pageau, Pageau!
J.G. Pageau, known to Rangers’ fans as “that little piece of fucking shit that scored again” was not done for the night when he buried the game-tying goal with just 62 seconds remaining in the third period. He would score again in overtime to seal the win because of course, he did. As painful as that final nail would be, it was the tying goal that really defined the Rangers’ night. There was little doubt among Rangers’ fans that the game was over at that moment, even as the outcome would not be decided until the second overtime.
#3 7.7 Dreary Seconds
The instances above all stung quite a bit, but we’re now hitting those last few goals against that had you waking up the entire house as you screamed out in anguish. There were quite a few goals above that occurred in later rounds of the playoffs or deep into overtime, but at number three, we have a goal-against that hurts just a little bit more. The Rangers were just moments, 7.7 seconds in fact, away from setting up an elimination game against the Buffalo Sabres that could propel the team into the Conference Final for the first time since Wayne Gretzky was a New York Ranger back in 1997. Between then and now was over a decade known as “the Dark Ages” where the Rangers missed the playoffs in all but one of those seasons – a sweep by the New Jersey Devils just a season before. 7.7 seconds. That was the time left on the game-clock when Chris Drury (remember him?) tucked in the tying goal which would eventually lead to an overtime win and set up a must-win game-six that the Rangers would lose to end their season.
#2 @#$%! Henrique
The Rangers traveled the long and mostly correct path to respectability after the 2004/2005 season was lost to a lockout which began the Salary Cap Era. They took their time, balancing big ticket free agent signings along the way. With home grown inexpensive talent through shrewd drafting and disciplined development, they seemed to be poised to begin a stretch where they would be contenders again. That patience looked like it might finally be paying off when John Tortorella helped to will his team through the 2012 playoffs by demanding from each player tireless work and sacrifice. Even down three games to two and facing elimination in overtime against the Rangers’ biggest rival at the time, the New Jersey Devils, there was a feeling the team might have something left. After all, “Matteau, Matteau, Matteau” and all that. Just a minute into the extra period, though, Adam Henrique pulled back the curtain and exposed that there was no great and powerful Wizard of Oz pulling the last few strings of a Rangers’ comeback for the ages, but instead there was just a round black piece of frozen rubber crossing a red painted goal line before coming to rest in the back of Lundqvist’s net for the final time that year.
OK, you’ve made it this far and you probably know what’s coming next. Even though that won’t ease that queasy feeling you’ve no doubt come to accept anytime this special time in Rangers’ history comes up. The first series the Rangers’ competed for the Stanley Cup in since their 52-year championship drought ended in 1994 would see the team continually self-destruct. In games one and two the Rangers did not trail for a second, yet lost both games in overtime after surrendering several two-goal leads throughout the games. They would get handled easily in game three and then take game four to cut their deficit down to three games to one. After leading game five heading into the third period, former Ranger sniper Marian Gaborik would tie things up in the third. Surely the Rangers would not lose a third straight overtime match against Los Angeles in a row. Surely their season would not end off the stick of streaking defenseman Alec Martinez.
If you manage to uncurl out of the fetal position, release your clenched fists and clean up the vomit off your shoes and still feel somehow unsatisfied with this list, here for one last kick in the nuts (or lady nuts for our masochistic female fans) are those goals against that missed the top-ten, but still deserve dishonorable mention:
Disagree with the order? Is there a goal missing from this list? Want to punch a kitten in the face? Let me know about it on Twitter @DaveMRogers