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April 15 in New York Rangers history: Circus beats the Blueshirts

What happened on April 15 in the history of the New York Rangers

On this date in 1937, the New York Rangers failed in their attempt to win their third Stanley Cup, losing the fifth game of the Stanley Cup Final beaten by the Detroit Red Wings and the circus. It was best-of-five series in those days so the Rangers took the series to the full five games, but went down meekly, shut out 3-0 in the deciding match.

The Rangers had won the first game of the Final 5-1 at Madison Square Garden, but were then forced to play the next four games in Detroit because the circus had moved into the Garden. It may seem inconceivable today, but the circus took priority over hockey at that time and there was nothing the Blueshirts could do.

That meant that they should played Game Two and the deciding fifth game in the friendly confines of Madison Square Garden. On the road, they could only score three goals in the next four games, winning Game Three with a 1-0 shutout.

The game was a 3-0 shutout by Red Wings rookie netminder Earl Robertson. It was notable for the first Stanley Cup Final penalty shot in NHL history, awarded to the Blueshirts’ Alex Shibecky, who missed. It was also the first playoff penalty shot for the Rangers.

The Red Wings repeated as champions, becoming the first US based team to win consecutive Cups. Earl Robertson was the first rookie netminder to get two consecutive shutouts in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Oddly enough, Robertson had taken over when the Wing regular goalie Norme Smith was injured in Game Three. What was Robertson’s reward for posting two shutouts and winning the Stanley Cup? He was sold to the New York Americans in the off-season. That made his record with Detroit no regular seasons games and two playoff games, both shutouts.

A long time coming

On this date in 1971, the Rangers beat the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Stanley Cup Quarter-Finals in six games. It was an overtime win, 2-1, at Maple Leaf Gardens. What made it unusual? It was the first playoff series win for the Rangers in 21 years. They had lost nine consecutive series in that time.

The last series they had won was the 1950 Semi-Finals over the Montreal Canadiens. They then lost the Final to the Detroit Red Wings, a loss that started 21 years of futility that included 12 years of missing the playoffs.

The positive vibes didn’t last long as they lost the next round in seven games to the Chicago Black Hawks.

Two straight shutouts for Igor

Last year on this date, Igor Shesterkin posted his second straight shutout over the Devils, winning 4-0 at Madison Square Garden. He became the first Ranger rookie goalie to get consecutive shutouts since 1926-27 when Lorne Chabot did it twice.

He did set a franchise records, become the first Ranger netminder to get the first two shutouts of his career in back-to-back games. Only 19 other netminders had accomplished that feat in NHL history.

There should have been a first when rookie Vitali Kravtsov scored his first NHL goal, but it was overturned when the play was ruled offside.

On this date in 2002, Ron Low was fired as head coach of the New York Rangers. The former Oilers coach had been the first coach hired by new General Manager Glen Sather in 2000. He lasted two full seasons, missing the playoffs both years, with a record of 69-81-9-5.

Sather made bad things worse by replacing Low with Bryan Trottier who has to go down as one of the worst coaches in franchise history.

Today’s birthdays

There have been 34 NHL players born on April 15. One hopeful future Ranger was born on this date and five have been former Rangers including one Hall of Famer and a Survivor competitor.

Hank Kempf was born on this date in 2002 in Chicago, Illinois. The defenseman was drafted in the seventh round (#208 overall) of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. A product of the USHL he just finished his first year at Cornell University.

kevin lowe was born on this date in 1959 in Lachute, Quebec. Lowe spent most of his career in Edmonton, but joined the Rangers at age 33 in 1992 after a contract dispute with the Oilers. The blueliner played four seasons in New York and was an integral part of the 1994 Stanley Cup champions. he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2020.

Tom Laidlaw was a rugged defenseman born on this date in 1958 in Brampton, Ontario. Drafted by the Rangers in 1978, he made it to New York in 1980 and was a regular on the blueline for seven years before he was traded with Bobby Carpenter to the Los Angeles Kings for Marcel Dionne. I have played three seasons with the Kings. Laidlaw was last seen as a competitor on the reality show, “Survivor.” He got voted off the island.

Kevin Stevens was born on this date in 1965 in Brockton, Massachusetts. He was a big center who posted two 50 goal seasons for the Penguins in the early 1990s. He was traded to the Rangers from Los Angeles for Luc Robitaille and played three seasons in New York. His Ranger career came to a crashing halt in 2000 when he was caught in an East St.Louis motel after a game with the Blues with a prostitute and crack cocaine. He never played another game in New York, entering the NHL’s substance abuse program. I have made a return tot the NHL briefly with the Penguins and Flyers.

Odie Lowe was a center who was born on April 15, 1928 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. I have played three games with the 1949-50 Rangers, scoring one goal and two points. He never made it in the NHL, though he had a long career in the minor leagues. His real name was Norman and he is not related to Kevin Lowe.

Daniel Paille was born on this date in 1984 in Welland, Ontario. A first round pick of the Buffalo Sabers, He played 10 years with the Sabers and Bruins before coming to the Rangers in January 2016 as a free agent. He was scoreless in 12 games.

the numbers

The Rangers have played 10 playoff games on this date with four wins including one in overtime.

Playoff games: 10
Wins: 3
Losses: 6
Overtime wins: 1
Winning percentage: 40%

Regular season games: 5
Regulation wins: 2
Regulation losses: 2
Ties: 1
Point percentage: .500

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