We are entitled to classic rewinds on MSG, with the television network of remarkable games from the 1980s and 1990s as well as many of the best and brightest of this century.
We saw the Devils make the playoffs for the first time in their history; we saw the first game in the first round of the Battle of New York in 1990, in which the Islanders attacked Jeff Bloemberg in the final buzzer after Pat LaFontaine had been punched in the head a minute earlier by James Patrick; we saw Jason Arnott scoring in the second overtime game in Dallas to give the Devils the Stanley Cup in 2000.
The trip to the past brings memories. As in, how is it possible that I forget that Gary Nylund, who played 211 games with the team, was on the Islanders?
But it also creates the possibility of creating rankings. In this case, The Post will rank the best teams in hockey history in New York / New Jersey. We do not add WAR, GAR or GAA numbers to create the list. Rather, it is based on eyeballs and experience. We saw each of these teams except one.
13. Rangers from 1996-1997
Truth be told, it was a disappointing and disappointing season, with the Blueshirts going just 38-34-10. Coach Colin Campbell was forced to hold a press conference in early November on the mezzanine level of the Macdonald Hotel in Edmonton to defend his work performance after the team left for a start 7-11-4 (which became 7-13-4). But it was the team with Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier. And it was the team that took the magic out of the playoffs, number 99 registering a pair of hat tricks as the Blueshirts made it to the conference finals before an injury-stricken team fell to the Flyers in five games.
12. Rangers from 1939-1940
Frank Boucher was behind the bench for this 27-11-10 team that finished second behind Boston, but eliminated the Bruins in the semifinals before winning the third franchise in 13 years with a six-game win over the Maple Leafs in which the last four games were played in Toronto. These were the Blueshirts of Davey Kerr, Bryan Hextall Sr., Art Coulter, Neil and Mac Colville, Muzz and Lynn Patrick, Alex Shibicky and Phil Watson.
11. Rangers 2011-12
The Black-and-Blueshirts peaked under John Tortorella with a 51-24-7 season in which they won the first seed in the Eastern Conference and lost one point less than the trophy Presidents. Henrik Lundqvist was at its peak, as was the shooting brigade blocked before the king. But playing seven games in each of the first two rounds, through which the coach shortened the bench at all times, drained the club that was shocked by the Devils in a six-game conference final that represented the last hooray by Martin Brodeur.
10. 2011-12 Devils
This marks the only season in Ilya Kovalchuk’s NHL career in which her team won a playoff round. This team, which had gone 48-28-6 to the rhythm of number 17, Zach Parise, Patrik Elias, Travis Zajac and Adam Henrique (“Henrique … it’s over!” At the front, won three rounds of the tournament, including that upset signal from the Blueshirts before losing in six games against the Kings in the final.
9. 1978-79 Rangers
Charisma and aura everywhere, even behind the bench with Fred Shero during his first year on Broadway. There was the Ooh-La-La gang with Ron Duguay and Dave Maloney; Anders Hedberg and Ulf Nilsson; the Godfather Line with Phil Esposito centering Don Murdoch and Don Maloney. The Rangers crushed the Flyers in a five-game quarter-final match, taking the bottom four by a total score of 26-5, before stunning the first Islanders in the six-game conference final – after which, according to the front page of The Post, the team partied at Studio 54. The team lost the final in five against Montreal after taking the first game.
8. 1991-92 Rangers
Mark Messier won the Hart Trophy in his first year in New York with Roger Neilson behind the bench, Brian Leetch won the Norris Trophy at 24 and the Rangers won the Presidents’ Trophy by ranking 50-25-5. But after winning a first round of seven games against the Devils, the Blueshirts were bowled over by the Penguins in six games in the series in which Adam Graves hit Mario Lemieux on the wrist with his stick and Mike Richter allowed one of the central window.