Writing up a eulogy to remember the 2011-12 New York Rangers would not be easy, and I considered this heavily when thinking how I was going to go about writing mine for The Rangers Tribune. The reason the task is so difficult is because this was undoubtedly one of the most memorable Rangers seasons in recent history, with so many landmark events and moments taking place within it. I thought about this for a while, and decided that my writing, alone, would not do this season justice. So, as I tend to do often here on the blog, I veered off the path of normalcy and took a unique approach with this.
In addition to me recapping each major event of the 2011-12 New York Rangers season, I built a video timeline to really capture the moment of each of them. There are 25 total, which means there are 25 videos waiting for you to watch (you may want to improve the quality on some of the videos while watching via YouTube bar). You're going to be here a while, so get comfortable, but trust me, you'll be thanking me for this when you've gone through them all. And might I suggest you have a box of kleenex handy if you are the emotional type.
And here. we. gooooo.
October 20, 2011: Ryan McDonagh Game-Winner with .5 seconds Left
If you recall, the Rangers went 3-3-3 to begin the regular season, with back-to-back losses to the Kings and Ducks in Stockholm, Sweden. Their win over the Calgary Flames, upon returning to the States and heading immediately out west after a quick trip to Long Island, was the very first of many memorable victories to come. Why? Ryan McDonagh.
November 11, 2011: Last Celebratory Sean Avery Moment
While 2011-12 was a great year, it also marked the death of Sean Avery's career as a New York Ranger. His breakaway goal against the Carolina Hurricanes in November is probably the most recent lasting memory we will ever have of number 16.
November 26, 2011: Carl Hagelin's First NHL Goal vs. Flyers
Rookie Carl Hagelin would turn out to be a tremendous reason for the Rangers' success this season, but we had yet to know this upon his recall. It all began with his first NHL goal in his second NHL game in a 2-0 win over the Philadelphia Flyers.
December 8, 2011: Artem Anisimov's Head-Shot Celebration
Honestly, while creating this timeline of great moments from this past season, I admitted to myself that Anisimov's head shot celebration against the Tampa Bay Lightning had to be in my personal top 5.
December 10, 2011: Callahan Greets Grandma After Beating Sabres
The Rangers and their fans were blessed to have HBO's 24/7 follow them around for many reasons, but one of the major ones had to be for the public viewing of Ryan Callahan's adorable relationship with his grandmother.
December 17, 2011: Brad Richards' Game-Winner with .1 Seconds Left
Brad Richards established himself as the new Mr. Clutch on Broadway this season, and part of that has to do with his shocking game-winner against the Phoenix Coyotes with .1 seconds remaining in regulation time.
December 22, 2011: Tortorella/Liam Story Premieres on HBO's 24/7
As I mentioned before, there were a ton of spectacular things about 24/7. The best? John Tortorella's relationship with his buddy, Liam.
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January 2, 2012: The Winter Classic
The Winter Classic was the main attraction of the Rangers' 2011-12 season, so it needed two videos. The first is Dan Girardi's 'classic' starting lineup announcement in the locker room, followed by highlights from the Rangers' 'classic' comeback win over the Flyers. Mike Rupp salute and all, baby.
January 21, 2012: Gaborik OT Winner vs. Bruins
Back in January, the defending champion Boston Bruins were the team to beat in the NHL, leading the League in most categories after a tremendous winning streak. Did this faze the New York Rangers? Nope.
January 29, 2012: Gaborik Scores on Lundqvist in All-Star Game
There was a lot of hype surrounding Marian Gaborik and Henrik Lundqvist on the last weekend of January, as they would be facing each other in the 2012 NHL All-Star Game. Gabby ended up potting two goals on his New York netminder, one of which he celebrated Anisimov-style (see above) to really rub it in.
February 19, 2012: Derek Stepan OT Winner vs. Blue Jackets
Just a few days before the 2012 trade deadline, Rangers' primary target Rick Nash tied the game late for his last place Blue Jackets to force overtime and spark the MSG crowd into a "We Don't Want You" chant. Derek Stepan and Michael Del Zotto would thankfully connect early in overtime for one of the season's prettiest game-winning goals.
March 6, 2012: Henrik Lundqvist Makes His Best Save of the Season
Henrik Lundqvist's best stop of his god-like 2011-12 campaign can be a debatable topic, but I choose this trio of saves, including a sprawling stick save, on David Clarkson to be his absolute best.
March 11, 2012: Gaborik OT Winner vs. Islanders
Marian Gaborik seems to be appearing a lot on here for OT goals (and we didn't even get to the Caps playoff series yet), but this one in the final meeting with the rival Islanders drew one of the loudest roars of the regular season from the Garden faithful.
March 19, 2012: Rangers vs. Devils Line Brawl/ Torts vs. Deboer Part I
This would only be a prelude of what was to come between the Rangers and Devils this season, but this line brawl at the drop of the puck on March 19 certainly brought the rivalry up a notch, especially between the two coaches.
March 21, 2012: Callahan OT Winner vs. Red Wings on His Birthday
The Rangers had a very tough schedule to finish off the 2011-12 regular season, and a big name on that list was the Detroit Red Wings. These were the types of games that the Rangers always seemed to have some sort of hero emerge in, and on this night it happened to be captain Ryan Callahan on his birthday.
April 3, 2012: Rangers Clinch Eastern Conference
The Rangers clinched both the Eastern Conference and the Atlantic Division in their third-to-last game of the regular season against the Flyers in Philly.
April 5, 2012: Tortorella Blasts Penguins After Loss
Head coach John Tortorella's number-1 moment of the season had to be his outburst against the Pittsburgh Penguins organization following a dirty knee hit on Derek Stepan in a Ranger loss to the Pens. He would later be fined a hefty $20,000 fine for his comments, but they sparked much debate on the NHL's integrity League-wide, especially on this blog.
ECQF Game 2: The Dubinsky Gatorade Smash
I would've loved to have had more time to recap every moment from the 2012 playoffs, but I'd imagine your eyes are beginning to hurt at this point, so we'll hit the highlights. The first: Brandon Dubinsky's gatorade smash in a raucous Game 2 against the Senators.
ECQF Game 7: Rangers Defeat Senators, Advance to Semis
This would be only one of two Game 7s at MSG this spring, but it was also the first since 1994 and the Rangers made it a night to remember.
ECSF Game 1: Chris Kreider's Game-Winner vs. Washington
Rookie Chris Kreider's amazing emergence upon being signed to the team in the playoffs gave much hope for what is to come in this kid's future, and this goal against the Washington Capitals in Game 1 of the semifinals really had everyone talking about number 20.
ECSF Game 3: Gaborik's Triple Overtime Winner
Best moment of the season? I'd say so. Well past midnight would Game 3 against the Capitals venture, as the two teams played basically two games to decide one. It was all worth it for Ranger fans, though, who celebrated Marian Gaborik's triple overtime winner in the wee hours of the morning.
ECSF Game 5: Richards Ties with 6.6 seconds/Staal Wins in OT
Second best moment of the season? Not only did Brad Richards tie Game 5 against the Capitals with 6.6 seconds left in regulation, but Marc Staal followed that up with the game-winner early in overtime to send the roof off of MSG.
ECSF Game 7: Rangers Eliminate Caps, Advance to Conference Finals
The second Game 7 at MSG of the spring, and again, the Rangers made it worth their while.
ECF Game 4: Rupp Punches Brodeur/ Torts vs. Deboer Part II
There aren't many 'good' highlights to draw from the series against the Devils from a Rangers standpoint, so I picked the one everyone probably got the most enjoyment out of.
I hope you enjoyed my timeline of remembrance for the 2011-12 New York Rangers (this post will come in handy in August when you go through your annual hockey withdrawals). It was a fabulous season in which the franchise made huge strides in, as we've discussed many times on this blog.
Despite the fact that it fell just two games short of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, this team and the season it put together will never ever be forgotten.