Unlikely New York Rangers Playoff Heroes

new york rangers playoff

Post-season heroes come in all forms from the star player to the unknown fourth-liner. We all know the exploits of the great playoff performers. However, we hardly hear about the unlikely playoff heroes. These unlikely post-season stars can contribute in many ways. Contributions could be for an entire playoff run, a series, a game, or even a goal. These unlikely heroes have made big plays that no one expects. This series looks at all of these unknown stars. These are the unlikely New York Rangers playoff heroes.

Unlikely New York Rangers Playoff Heroes

Kris King

Before the Moment

We head back in time to discuss the first unlikely New York Rangers playoff hero. The Canadian-born forward Kris King was acquired from the Detroit Red Wings in the 1989-1990 season to input physicality into the Blueshirts. Now considered an “old school” enforcer, King roughed the team into a division title and although not known for his offensive skills, King achieved his career-best season while at the Rangers organization. He notched 11 goals and 14 assists equaling 25 points in 72 games during the 1990-91 season.

The Moment

However, King’s moment to shine proceeded in the following season where the then 25-year-old scored four goals in 13 playoff games, three of which were game-winning goals.  The most memorable of these came in overtime of Game 3 of the Patrick Division Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins. King’s goal against Penguins goalie Tom Barrasso gave his team a 2-1 series lead.

The Aftermath

During King’s tenure in New York, the Rangers won two divisional titles and a President’s Trophy and proved instrumental in placing the New York Rangers back into the hockey forefront with his grit and determination. “King Kong” is a well-deserved New York Rangers playoff hero. However, in December 1992 the Rangers traded King to Winnipeg with Tie Domi for Ed Olczyk.  The enforcer enjoyed 14 years in the NHL before announcing his retirement in 2000. During this time, the fiery winger accumulated an outstanding 2030 penalties in minutes.

Stephane Matteau

Before the Moment

Another Canadian-born native worthy of the title of unlikely playoff hero is Stephane Matteau. Originally drafted in the 2nd round, 25th overall of the 1987 Draft by the Calgary Flames. Matteau achieved average success with the Salt Lake Golden Eagles (the then Flames affiliate team) in the International Hockey League, with 23 goals, 35 assists equalling 58 points in his last season before heading to the show. However, the 6-4 forward failed to produce similar offensive success going forward.

The Moment

During Matteau’s extensive thirteen year NHL career, the second-round draft pick had a brief stint with the Rangers, only three seasons, in fact. But Matteau’s playoff performance during this time is firmly cemented part of  Rangers hockey lore. In May 1994, Matteau scored two overtime goals, one in Game 3, but most memorably scoring in the second overtime in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final against the New Jersey Devils. This propelled the Rangers into the Stanley Cup Final and led to being immortalized into the Rangers’ first and last Stanley Cup win since 1940.

The Aftermath

The following year Matteau traded to the St. Louis Blues and represented many more teams in the NHL in his extensive career including the San Jose Sharks and the Florida Panthers before retiring in 2003. Although the veteran forward gave valued experience to his teammates, Matteau never achieved the same playoff success again.

Dominic Moore

Before the Moment

Dominic Moore was drafted by the Rangers in the second round, 95th overall of the 2000 NHL Draft. The Canadian native played 87 NHL games in the first two seasons of his NHL career before being traded to the Nashville Predators for Adam Hall. However, somewhat poetically, Moore rejoined the Rangers for three seasons towards the end of his hockey career. This is when the then 35-year-old became an unlikely Rangers playoff hero.

The Moment

Moore scored game-winning goals in the Eastern Conference Final in back-to-back playoff seasons. The first against the Montreal Canadiens in Game 6 of the 2013-14 playoffs was a perfectly positioned shot from the slot assisted from a behind the net pass by teammate Brian Boyle. This goal was instrumental to the Rangers proceeding to the Stanley Cup Final against the Los Angeles Kings.

The second goal came the following year in Game 1 against Tampa Bay Lightning. Straight from the penalty box, Moore deflected Kevin Hayes‘s shot in front of the net.

This goal clinched the game for the Rangers. However, Moore’s grit, determination, and veteran experience also contributed to the forward’s unlikely hero status.

The Aftermath

Moore played a season each with the Boston Bruins and the Toronto Maple Leafs before heading overseas. Although he did not achieve the same playoff success again.

All of these players from history deserve the title of unlikely New York Rangers Playoff Heroes, they stood up to the call when the team needed them the most.

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