“We did all but win”

This article was originally published in August 2012.

NS New York Ranger suffered one of the sport’s longest championship droughts, as they went fifty-four years without winning the Stanley Cup. And while the Stanley Cup finally made it to New York in 1994, the years from 1940 to 1994 didn’t go by without great moments and seasons.

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One of those memorable seasons was 1971-72.

1971-72 Rangers ‘Rise to the Top

Last year, the Rangers established themselves as one of the best teams in hockey. Goalkeeper Eddie Giacomin and Gilles Villemure shared the Vezina Trophy, and Rangers won their first playoff series in 21 years.

After falling two games behind in the Semi-Final against the Chicago Blackhawks, Pete Stemkowski scored in three-game extra time in game six to end this streak. However, the Blackhawks won Game 7 in Chicago to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Gilles Villemure
Gilles Villemure (THW Archive)

Rangers were built to win the years 1971-72. In addition to the duo Giacomin and Villemure, their defense was also blueliner by the top of the Hall of Fame Brad Park. But the real strength of Blueshirts is their offensive ability.

Vic Hadfield trio, Jean Ratelle, and Rod Gilbert is the best line-up in Rangers’ 86-year history. They are nicknamed ‘GAG . Series‘, stands for one-game goal line. In 1971-72, the line lived up to its moniker.

1971-72 Rangers as an offensive power

Jean Ratelle New York Rangers
Jean Ratelle, New York Rangers (THW Archive)

Hadfield, Ratelle and Gilbert became the first teammates in NHL history to score 40 goals in a single season. Hadfield became the first Ranger to score 50 goals in a season, when he scored twice in the final game of the season. Gilbert, Rangers’ all-time leader in goals and points, enjoyed a career year, ending his career with 43 goals and 97 points. But it was Ratelle who led the trio.

In just 63 games, Ratelle scored 46 goals, added 63 assists, and set the Rangers record for points in a season with 109 (this record was maintained until Jaromir Jagr scored 123 points in the 2005-06 season). As good as the GAG ​​line is, they’re not the only offensive vehicle for Broadway Blueshirts.

Rangers scored 317 goals in 78 games between 1971-72 (average of 4.06 goals per game), and seven players on the roster scored at least 20 goals. Besides top lane, 2/3 “Bulldog Line” scored 20 goals. Center Walt Tkaczuk scored 24 goals and scored 66 points, and Bill Fairbairn scored 22 more. Park also had a breakthrough season, when he scored 24 goals and totaled 73 points from the green line.

Superstar in wrinkles

Ed Giacomin New York Ranger
Ed Giacomin, New York Rangers (THW Archives)

Rangers were dominant at both ends of the ice. Giacomin played 44 games and won 24 of them. Villemure has also won 24 games and averaged 2.09 goals per game. Under head coach Emile Francis, Rangers had a record of 48-17-13, good enough to place second in the NHL in points. However, Rangers did not have enough strength to enter the knockout round.

At the end of the season, Ratelle broke his ankle after a shot from teammate Dale Rolfe. (from ‘Lundqvist Not Alone: ​​Injuries That Changed Rangers History’, ‘ New York Post Office, 02/07/2015) Injury derailed Ratelle’s stellar season and forced him to miss the final 15 games of the season.

Despite losing the lead striker, Rangers still made it through the first two rounds of the knockout round. They knocked out defending champion Stanley Montreal Canada in six games in the first round, and then wiped out the Blackhawks in the rematch of last season’s Semi-Final series.

Rangers to the final 1971-72

In the Finals, Rangers’ opponent was Bobby Orr and Big Bad Bruins, the only team with more points than Rangers in the regular season. Ratelle returned for the series, but even then he admitted that the recovery was rushed. Rangers dropped the first two games in Boston, and then split the two games at Madison Square Garden.

Bobby Orr
Bobby Orr. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios / Getty Images)

After three games against one, Rangers were able to win Boston in game 5. Rangers led 2-1 after two innings, but right-winger Bobby Rousseau scored twice in the third innings to take home. win for The Blueshirts.

However, Orr took over Game 6 at Madison Square Garden. The Bruins defender scored the first goal of the game and assisted in Wayne Cashman’s first two goals. The offense was more than enough for Gerry Cheevers, who opened the scoring in the Bruins’ 3-0 win.

The window of opportunity is closed

The 1971-72 season was Rangers’ best chance to win with that team’s core players. The team reached the Semi-Finals for the next two seasons but was eliminated by the Blackhawks in 1972-73 and the Philadelphia Flyers in 1973-74.

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Despite all the great things Rangers did between 1971-72, they were unable to bring the Cup to New York. “With Jean, we could have beaten them, but without him, Orr would just be overdone,” Francis said. “It’s a shame. We did all but won it all.”

https://thehockeywriters.com/1971-72-new-york-rangers-we-did-it-all-except-win/ “We did all but win”

Subhankar Mondal

Subhankar Mondal is a 24ssports U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Subhankar Mondal joined 24ssports in 2021 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing: subhankarmondal@24ssports.com.

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