#TBT: Rangers vs. Penguins – October 25, 2008

Remember me?

Folks, it’s July.  And not just July, but the MIDDLE of the July, which is the worst time of year for a hockey fan.  The fun part of free agency is over with, the #hockeyinsiders are on vacation, and the players are enjoying some free time before getting serious again ahead of the new season.  The clock ticks ever so slowly towards October 5th.

In order to pass the time, I thought it would be fun to take a weekly stroll down memory lane, at least until we have some more substantial and current Rangers-related issues to discuss.

A little background: I have been fortunate enough to attend lots of games as a season ticket holder at MSG since 2001.  My father – whose fandom extends back to the mid-1960’s (at “the Old Garden”) – is a lifelong fan and Blue Seater, introduced my brother and I to the Blueshirts at an early age.  As you’d expect, there have been incredible highs (I witnessed the Marty St. Louis OT winner vs. Montreal in person), horrible lows (Game 6 vs. Ottawa this year!) and everything in between.

So every Thursday, I’ll share with you some memories of a game I witnessed live from the Blue Seats.  I’ll include videos (if they exist) and any other relevant pieces I can dig up from that particular game.  Sound good?  Great.  Let’s go.

 October 25, 2008 – Rangers vs. Penguins | “The Nikolai Zherdev Game”

Remember Nikolai Zherdev?  Zherdev was the “enigmatic Russian” archetype fully realized.  After leading the Rangers in scoring in 2008-2009, Zherdev found himself out of the NHL the following season (he did play 56 games for Philadelphia in 2010-2011).  His skill was undeniable, but the rest of his game just never sat well with his coaches, particularly John Tortorella, who took over in February of this particular season.

Zherdev did have his share of great moments, maybe none bigger than his last-second game-tying goal against the division rival Penguins in an early-season game at the Garden.  Let’s go to the video tape…

My seats are located directly behind the goal the Rangers attack in the third period, so I had a prime view of Zherdev as he barreled down the ice.  A couple of things stand out to me as I watch this clip nearly 9 years later:

  1. After Sidney Crosby misses the empty net (ha!), who retrieves the loose puck and (sort of) initiates the rush? None other than Dan Girardi.
  2. While it’s easy to chalk this up as a soft goal (allowed by – you guessed it – Marc-Andre Fleury), the grainy video doesn’t do justice to the fact that Zherdev’s shot was an absolute laser that few goaltenders would’ve stopped.  Zherdev’s range of skill was fully on display in just those few seconds he had the puck.
  3. Some things don’t change: Henrik Lundqvist made some great saves in OT, enabling the Rangers to get to the shootout and ultimately prevail.

Even though this was a very early regular season game, you couldn’t tell by the crowd reaction, which was more early May than late October.  Remember, this was still relatively early in the post-lockout renaissance of the Rangers, though this was also the year that much of the 2005-2006 goodwill began to fade.

Notable Players

Crosby, Fleury, Evgeni Malkin and Kris LeTang all played in this one. Some other names you might recognize that suited up for the Pens: Ruslan Fedotenko, Miroslav Satan and Max Talbot (yuck).  One name I didn’t recognize: Mike Zigomanis. Who?

For the Rangers, old friends Wade Redden, Scott Gomez and Chris Drury played, the latter two picking up assists on Markus Naslund’s third period goal to cut the Pens lead to 2-1.  Fredrik Sjostrom scored the shootout winner.

Trivia Question

Who was Henrik Lundqvist’s backup goalie in this game?

How’d it all turn out?

This version of the Rangers finished in 7th place with 95 points and bowed out to the Washington Capitals in the first round of the playoffs; a series famous for John Tortorella getting suspended for Game 6 after hurling a water bottle at a Capitals fan. Fun times.

The Penguins fired Michel Therrien after 57 games.  Dan Bylsma took over and led the team to its first Stanley Cup Championship since 1992.

That’s all for this week.  Share your memories in the comments below.

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    • Torts, though he very much wore out his welcome, resurrected the Rangers. There’d be no 2014 Finals appearance without the defensive consciousness instilled by Torts’ “every player must try to block every shot, even you Rick Nash” defensive strategy that influenced how the Rangers played defense in AV’s first season.

      Also, who doesn’t miss Torts verbally pulling Brooks through the washboard on a nightly basis?

      • Under A.V. this team has digressed every season would be shocked if they make playoffs this year with Holden & Staal still on this roster. This team can go only so far under A.V. he has not nor he ever win a Stanley Cup. He has no clue how to win Lord Stanley’s Cup.

  • Valiquette was the back-up.

    I still contest that had Zherdev cared one bit about progressing, similar to Kreider, he could’ve been a top ten player in this league.

    • Zherdev is a pathetic drunk. As an added bonus he once struck his girlfriend’s car with a metal pole, in full view of a restaurant full of people. I don’t like Torts but for once his assessment of Zherdev as an uncaring clown was 100% correct.

  • So I remember this goal fondly, but apparently not too clearly.

    Why do I have this vision of Zherdev sliding on his knees after the goal and getting pummeled by his teammates? Did he score another goal like that? Maybe an OT winner?

  • Now that he’s in LV, I’m going to miss Fleury’s famous right turn into the corner after giving up a goal.

    Also, did you guys notice Wade Redden of all people leading the break with Zherdev on the tying goal? He almost stole that nice headman pass from Naslund to Zherdev.

    Nice job, Rob. This could be a fun summer feature (or tortuous if you decide to go back a further 6 or 7 years for clips).

  • The NY Past had a statement from AV.
    “In no way am I pointing fingers at anyone, because it’s my job to get the best out of my team and I didn’t, but for some reason some of our key guys underperformed in that series,” Vigneault said. “We needed better from them and there’s no doubt I needed to be better in pushing the right buttons.
    At least AV has an inkling that the players are quitting on him. We all know the AV supporters like E3 and others do not realize the players are giving up on AV.
    It was obvious that the team was quitting on him and a lot of buffalos pu pu it. How do you feel?

  • Rob- Awesome stuff.

    My request would be for you to do this same thing to the one Regular Season game which i somehow remember with the fondness of a Stanley Cup Finals game. Can’t tell you why. Coincidentally- also against the Penguins.

    Story line goes something like…. tie game, Pens have been pouring it on, Lundy was doing his usual big brother/big bank routine and bailing the team out, until the Penguins put one past him. We go down 2-1. He was incredibly upset at the team, or the refs…..idk someone. He broke his stick over the net or threw it and got an unsportsmanlike.

    So now we’re down 2-1 and shorthanded with a few minutes left. Game over, right? Not quite. We get a shorthanded rush where Dubinsky crosses the blueline drops a pass back to Staal who RIPS one past MAC. Tie game and we push to OT. I’m going all off memory here but during a bit of a back and forth 4 on 4, Dubinsky and Callahan break in on a 2 on 1 where I think Paul Martin went down with a snow angel. Dubi changed speed and toe dragged him for the ages, passing the puck across the goal mouth to find a Callahan for a wide open net. 3-2 OT winner. It was awesome.

    Would very much enjoy the Rob version of this one at some point later this summer. Cheers!

    • I remember that one. Stuck out to me because it was all the kids on the ice, all homegrown NYR talent, Callahan, Dubinsky, Anisimov, Staal, and Girardi.

      2010 I believe.

      • April 4, 2011 is another one.

        Rangers down 3-0 at home against Boston.

        Prospal nets 2 goals to pull to within one. With under 4 minutes left in the 3rd, the Callahan-Dubinsky line goes to work. Callahan does yeoman’s work on the boards maintaining control and Dubinsky gets the puck out front to stuff it in for the tying goal. Dubinsky goes down on his knees in celebration and gets mobbed. Saurer follows up with a little squibbler that squeaks in to make it 4-3 and then the Rangers seal it with an empty better.

        5 unanswered goals.

        • February 2015 against the Isles was another fun one.

          They’d been whipping our @ss all season, and were just ahead of us for 1st place in the Metro.

          They held a late 2-0 lead in the 1st period. Another 3-1 lead in the 2nd.

          Rangers scored twice in less than a minute for a 3-3 tie early in the 2nd period.

          A couple of goals later, the Rangers are down 5-3 in the third period and the Coliseum is beginning to chant, “You can’t beat us!” Looked like yet another frustrating loss to the Isles who’d pull even further ahead in the standings.

          Maybe it was the chants. Maybe something else. But the Rangers found another gear and start piling on chances. Stepan makes it 5-4 with a nice shot from the slot with a little over 13 minutes left.

          Right after that Stepan steals the puck on the blueline and sets up St Louis for the tying goal.

          Klein hammers home the ultimate game winner a short while later and the Rangers finally beat the Isles in a wild 6-5 classic.

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