Adam Henrique scored the Game 6 clincher against Henrik Lunqvist in a mad scramble at the net, prompting Doc Emrick to exclaim the immortal phrase “Henrique, It’s Over!” — debatably the most iconic call in Devil’s history. It even earned him the reputation as a bit of a Ranger-killer.
Kirk Muller tormented the Rangers in 1990 where he put up 7 goals and 4 assists in 7 games which we split 3-3-1 with Our Hated Rivals.
But who is the biggest all-time Ranger-killer?
In this article I’ll be providing just a couple charts from the Play Index feature on Hockey-Reference. One will be on the record of players against the the Rangers, the other will be on point production. If the embedded tables below are giving you issues, then you can download the Google Sheet here. I didn’t include ties. I don’t like ties.
Records vs Rags
Okay so we look at this list of players who have played at least 10 games against the Rangers and we are immediately reminded of the complete dominance we had over this team We went 15-0-8 from ‘97 to ‘01. The gentlemen at the top of this list presided over exclusively that span. Souray tops leads the all-time Devils dominance list over the Rangers being 12-0-0 (and some ties).
If we increase the number of GP to 20, Jason Arnott and Petr Sykora top the list. If we raise the bar to 30 gams, its Brian Rolston and Scott Gomez. If we make it 40, Scott Niedermeyer and Scott Stevens top the list along with Sergei Brylin and Bobby Holik.
If we just look at the raw number of times walking away from a Ranger game victorious, Patrik Elias — unsurprisingly — comes out on top with 41 wins in 73 games. Shortly after is Ken Daneyko —equally unsurprisingly — with 39 wins in 69 games.
This is all well and good, but when all is said and done, this appear to show much more about the era of the rivalry the player existed in. Let’s look instead at point production.
Point Production vs Rags
So we’re looking at a few things here we’re looking at the raw point production of the players first of all. But I also wanted to see if they played uniquely better against the Rangers, kind of like the way Martin Straka always seemed to bring is A-game when he came to Jersey.
First let’s do raw points. Patrik Elias. Not even close. He has scored 73 points in 84 games against the Rangers. That point total is twice as high as #2 scorer, Scott Gomez (39 points).
However, on a per game basis, Kirk Muller absolutely wreaked havoc. He scored 27 points in 28 games. He scored 15 goals against the blueshirts which is 4th all-time among Devils, despite being 25th in games played. But Kirk Muller was really good and that wasn’t a surprising production.
Peter Stastny put up 15 points in 16 games against the lesser mortals. That’s a 0.9375 points per game. His career average in the NHL was only 0.7972. That’s a significant improvement and I’m betting the Rangers didn’t expect that level of production.
And the dark horse, out of nowhere, to take the title of “Bizarre Ranger-killer” is Claude Loiselle. I have been a Devils fan for my entire life, I have researched the Devils with a high level of frequency since writing for this blog, I’ve read Franchise History Statbooks for fun, and I had never heard of this guy. Evidently, he’s a gentleman who played for the Devils from ‘87 to ‘89, but was in the NHL for 15 years. He averaged less than a half a point per game over his NHL career, but during a magically wonderful stretch with the Devils, he logged 6 goals and 10 points in 13 games.
Among current signed Devils (aka not Elias), Travis Zajac leads the way by a lot with 13 goals and 13 assists in 52 games.
I actually am going to give the esteemed honor of All-time Ranger-Killer to Brian Rafalski. An elite defender in the NHL and a Devil for 7 years, he logged 11 goals and 20 assists in 39 games as a defenseman — far and away the highest number for a defender. For comparison, Niedermayer had 34 points in 63 games. Furthermore, Rafalski’s career NHL average is only 0.57 points per game, so the 0.80 he averaged against the Rangers is kind of absurd. And does it appear in the results? Absolutely. Of all players with at least 30 matchups against the Manhattan Misfits, Rafalski had the best record of 21-7-3.
Who do you remember really having the rags’ number? What are your favorite rivalry moments? Leave any thoughts about the rivalry and Devils history you like in the comments below.