We are in the dog days of summer, which means no ice, which means no hockey, which means no joy in life. To help remedy this woeful period, I went youtubing for highlights from this past season. Three games instantly came to mind.
The first game was in mid-November. The game didn't have playoff implications at the time (although if the Rangers lose, they may well miss the playoffs), but beating the Pens is always sweet. Half way through regulation, EC makes a nifty little play to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead. The Rangers hold that lead for almost all of the second half, until with two and a half minutes left, the Pens break the shutout and tie it. Shit, overtime it is. Only half a second later, the Pens score again. Fuck. Quick comeback? Nope, Henrik puts the Rangers a man-down for the remainder of the game with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. No profanity will suffice, there is only silence and a profound sense of defeat. But there was something about the Rangers we had not yet learned; they got big ones. After intercepting a pass from Malkin (Fuck you, Geno), B-Dubs wills the puck into the offensive zone, draws two defenders to him, and drops the puck off to Marc Staal, who subsequently deposits it into the net. Sweet! With all the momentum heading into OT, it's a wonder the Rangers didn't win it sooner. After toying with the Pens for three and a half minutes, Cally and Dubinsky decided to stop dicking around. Dubinsky nonchalantly gives the lone Penguins defender the slip and Callahan nonchalantlier slips the puck past Fleury for the win. Super sweet!
For my second game, the Rangers find themselves once again in Pittsburgh, PA. Crosby was laying in a hospital bed with tubes running out of his body, and Malkin was in the process of being rebuilt by Russian scientists. Still, this win would prove to be equally if not more delicious. We pick this one up in the third period of a 1-1 game. Things seem to turn for the Rangers when choir-boy Matt Cooke does something uncharacteristically dirty. His malicious elbow to the head of Ryan McDonagh drew instant vitriol from Rangers fans and cries of "Make 'em pay for it." Only during the ensuing man-advantage, it's the Penguins who score. I had my suspicions but now I am sure; there is no God. No higher power could have such a disregard for justice. But wait, this is a 5-minute major, and the Rangers, or God, have time to set things right. And sure enough, the Rangers, now two men up, tie it on a patented Gaborik-putback. Hallelujah! Eleven seconds later, Cally cranks a shot from an impossible angle. Water into wine, bitches. The puck goes in and all is right in the world (except for war and poverty). The Rangers add two more late in the third for good measure. McDonagh doesn't miss a shift and assists on the fourth goal. Cooke gets bitch-slapped by Sister Bettman.
My third choice is also the Rangers third-to-last game of the regular season. Fast-forward midway through the second period and the Rangers playoff hopes look bleak. At home, in a game they must win, the Rangers have laid down and allowed the Bruins to take a 3-0 lead. Only there is something about the Rangers that we have come to learn over the course of the season; they got big ones. Vinny Prospal and Wojtek Wolski spark the comeback by connecting on two second-period goals. Headed into the third now down 3-2, the Rangers seemed primed for glory. However, the score holds for the first 16 minutes, and the playoff noose is once again beginning to suffocate Ranger fans. Then Ryan Callahan makes an immaculate spin-o-rama pass to Brandon Dubinsky who, in no particular order, slides on his ass, scores a goal, and dekes Tim Thomas. The game was tied, but not for long. Less than a minute later, renowned sniper Mike Sauer sneaks one past Thomas. The Rangers complete the comeback and live to fight another day. News of Ryan Callahan's end-of-game injury will later deflate the victory, but in the immediate aftermath, the Rangers were glorious.
This compilation is clearly not at all cumulative; I am not even touting these games as the absolute best of the Rangers season. These are just the three games that came to mind when I thought about the most joyous moments from the past season. Please feel free to share your own list.