Mike Richter

The Buzzer: Blackhawks stay hot; Long-lasting Luongo

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Three Stars

1. Vladimir Tarasenko

Tarasenko generated a hat trick to help the Blues sweep their home-and-home set against the Predators, with his third goal being a sweet overtime-winner for St. Louis. Things were already looking great for the Blues coming into this weekend, and now they’re trending toward being the team top West contenders do not want to face in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

“The Tank” extended his point streak to eight games. During that span, he’s generated seven goals and five assists for 12 points. Tarasenko’s at 22 goals in 2018-19, giving him six straight seasons with 20+ goals.

It’s a good sign that Tarasenko is firing the puck a lot, too. He generated eight shots on goal on Sunday, giving him 23 SOG over the last five games.

2. Alexandar Georgiev

What a performance by the rookie New York Rangers goalie.

Georgiev stopped 55 of 56 shots on goal by the Toronto Maple Leafs, including all 23 SOG he faced during Toronto’s four unsuccessful power-play opportunities. It was quite a way for Georgiev to celebrate his 23rd birthday.

He finished just four saves short of Mike Richter’s single-game Rangers record of 59.

3. Dominik Kahun

Six different players reached three points on Sunday. Tarasenko stands out from the pack being that he’s the only won whose three points comprised a hat trick.

Kahun joins Tarasenko as the only one of the six to score a GWG on Sunday. He generated two goals and one assist as the Blackhawks beat the Red Wings to win their seventh consecutive game.

The 23-year-old’s enjoyed a reasonably solid rookie season (27 points in 56 games), but he’s been really racking up points lately. Over the last four games, Kahun’s produced three goals and four assists for seven points. Kahun’s Blackhawks teammate Alex DeBrincat also had a three-point game on Sunday, with his coming via three assists.

Sharp on CHI

Speaking of Chicago’s winning streak, here’s Patrick Sharp on his former team’s turnaround, and their chances of making the playoffs.

Highlights of the Night

As nice a goal as Ryan Callahan scored, the biggest highlight is his celebration.

The Avalanche have really been struggling, but Nathan MacKinnon is still spectacular. Video evidence:

Factoids

Scores

STL 5 – NSH 4 (OT)
CHI 5 – DET 2
BOS 2 – COL 1 (OT)
WPG 3 – BUF 1
NJD 3 – CAR 2
NYI 2 – MIN 1
TBL 5 – FLA 2
NYR 4 – TOR 1

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Fanspeak: Messier voted greatest Ranger in franchise history

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This summer, NBC Sports’ social media team is conducting the #NHLGreatest initiative, designed for fans to choose the best player in each franchise’s history. Balloting was conducted through three platforms — Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — with thousands of votes being cast. The results of this initiative will be released throughout the month of August, in conjunction with PHT’s Team of the Day series.

New York Rangers

1. Mark Messier — 957 votes

2. Brian Leetch — 641 votes

3. Mike Richter — 314 votes

4. Wayne Gretzky — 291 votes

5. Henrik Lundqvist — 155 votes

6. Rod Gilbert — 113 votes

There was really only one choice to make here, wasn’t there?

Yes, Rod Gilbert is the franchise leader in goals and points and a Hockey Hall of Famer. Yes, Brian Leetch was the Conn Smythe Trophy winner in 1994 and Mike Richter was the goalie that helped make that Stanley Cup championship happen that year, but Mark Messier was the captain.

Messier’s guarantee the Rangers would win Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final in 1994 against the New Jersey Devils was the stuff of legend and earned him the nickname of “Messiah.” It was backed up by seeing him score a hat trick and force a legendary Game 7 that was capped off by Stephane Matteau’s double-overtime winner past Martin Brodeur.

What seemed to by mythology about Messier’s leadership came to fruition as the Rangers battled back against New Jersey and then slipped past Pavel Bure’s Vancouver Canucks in seven games in the Final. Hell, Messier even has his own award he dishes out annually for leadership based not upon the five Stanley Cups he won in Edmonton but the one he got in New York.

Wayne Gretzky had a fine final run with the Rangers and perhaps the best of Henrik Lundqvist’s legacy is yet to come in Manhattan, but when you think of the Rangers it’s Messier’s face taking the Cup from Gary Bettman that’s forever emblematic of the franchise.

Comparing current Rangers to the Cup-winning ’94 version

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NBC Sports Talk posed an interesting question last night: how do current New York Rangers compare to the Stanley Cup-winning 1993-94 version? Before PHT goes a little deeper with this, here’s the video of that discussion.

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(Henrik Lundqvist isn’t a money goalie? I dunno … he did kinda win a gold medal in one of the few instances in which he had a truly elite team in front of him. Just saying.)

Anyway, that video touched on Mark Messier and intangible type stuff, but I thought it would be more fun to take a quick-and-dirty comparison between the two.

source: AP1993-94 New York Rangers

Record: 52-24-8 for 112 points; first overall in the Atlantic Division; Goals For: 299 (fourth overall); Goals Against: 231 (third overall); PP%: 23.02 (96 goals); PK%: 84.6 (67 allowed); 20 shorthanded goals for, five against

Leading scorers: Sergei Zubov (89 points), Mark Messier (84), Adam Graves and Brian Leetch (79)

Goalies: Mike Richter (42-11-6 in 68 GP; .910 save percentage and 2.57 GAA with five shutouts) and Glenn Healy (10-12-2 for .878 save percentage, 3.03 GAA and two shutouts)

To help correct for the different scoring paces of the times, Richter’s save percentage was eight overall, his GAA ranked fifth among goalies and he was an All-Star in 93-94.

2011-12 New York Rangers

source: APRecord: 37-13-5 for 79 points; first overall in Atlantic Division; Goals For: 156 (12th overall); Goals Against: 110 (first overall); PP%: 14.81 (28); PK%: 87.15 (23); seven shorthanded goals for and three against

Leading scorers: Marian Gaborik (49), Ryan Callahan (42), Brad Richards (39) and Derek Stepan (37).

Goalies: Henrik Lundqvist (27-11-4 with a .941 save percentage, 1.77 GAA and seven shutouts) and Martin Biron (10-2-1 with a .919 save percentage with a 2.03 GAA and two shutouts).

Similarities: The teams certainly share some common traits. The ’94 Rangers had a coach who liked to yell at people (Mike Keenan) and the current version certainly does (John Tortorella). Both teams have an All-Star goalie and fairly balanced scoring, without having anyone who threatened for the Art Ross Trophy. Oh yeah, the current Rangers are sitting atop the Atlantic Division, which the 1994 ones won.

Differences: That doesn’t mean there aren’t big differences, though. As you can see from Zubov and Leetch being in the team’s top four scorers, the old version produced a lot more points from the blueline. (Not to say that Mike del Zotto is chopped liver offensively, but the gap is glaring.)

The current team also isn’t quite as balanced, but the biggest difference might be in special teams. The 2011-12 team’s power play is pretty punch-less while the older one was strong, especially in scoring an impressive 20 shorties to just five allowed.

Captains: Finally, both teams have a heart-and-soul captain, although one’s more famous and the other has quite a bit more hair.

***

Overall, I think there are some interesting parallels, but the current Rangers might be a few strides behind. (Unless they nab Rick Nash and become a more potent offensive team, perhaps.)

Mike Richter will play in Winter Classic alumni game

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Retro-inspired sweaters already add a nostalgic feel to Winter Classic games, but nothing brings the sentimentality quite like alumni games. Still, there’s always a sense of sadness when a fan favorite can’t make it (paging Wayne Gretzky). Luckily, Adam Rotter passes along comforting news: Mike Richter will play for the New York Rangers’ side in the upcoming 2012 Winter Classic alumni game.

There is a caveat, though: he won’t play as a goalie.

Sure, that’s a bummer, but his reasoning is sound. Richter had to hang up his pads because of concussion issues and has some concern about possible risks related to playing that position – even in a friendly contest. As Rotter says, “Any Mike Richter is better than no Mike Richter,” though.

Really, the saddest thing might be that Dan Blackburn will be one of the Rangers’ goalies (alongside John Vanbiesbrouck). In a fairer world, Blackburn would still be an active NHL goalie, instead.

Bernie Parent gets the call to play in Winter Classic Alumni Game

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As if you didn’t have enough of a reason to want to check out the Winter Classic Alumni Game, the Flyers are giving you a legendary Hall of Fame reason. Legendary Flyers goalie Bernie Parent was set to be one of the Flyers’ ambassadors for the game but he’s now putting himself in the Flyers’ lineup to play goal for the December 31 exhibition.

The Flyers’ original roster had Mark LaForest and Neil Little set to play goal but the 66 year-old Parent now wants in to play one more game in front of the hometown fans in Philly. Parent was the man responsible for helping the Flyers win their two Stanley Cups in the 1970s as part of the Broad Street Bullies.

Parent was the Tim Thomas of his day in that he won the Vezina Trophy, Stanley Cup, and Conn Smythe Trophy in 1975. Thomas is the only goalie to have accomplished the same feat since Parent did it. Parent is still a folk hero and a legend in Philadelphia to this day.

Taking Parent’s place as one of the Flyers’ ambassadors for the game is another legendary goalie in Ron Hextall. Hextall is currently the assistant GM for the L.A. Kings so getting the time off for the game was already an issue. If you’re wondering why Hextall isn’t playing, he hasn’t been in any kind of game shape since he retired in 1999.

Now we’ll wait to see if Mike Richter makes himself available to counter the Flyers’ Stanley Cup-winning goalie addition for the Rangers.