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BENOIT GOSSELIN
(1977-1978)
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Arron Asham is one of a handful of Rangers who've played the Bruins

Why They Never Met
Posted by Toby Ivey ≡ 5:14:39 PM - May 15, 2013

It's hard to imagine why the Bruins and Rangers have taken over 40 years to meet again in the playoffs.  There was of course the 2004-05 season was lost to a lockout, and neither team made the playoffs in the 1999-00 and 2000-01 seasons, and the Bruins were also out of the post-season in 1996-97, as well as the two seasons following the lockout - 2005-06 and 2006-07.

The Rangers further missed out in 1975-76, which was also the year that the Rangers traded Brad Park and Jean Ratelle to the Bruins for Phil Esposito and Carol Vadnais.  They missed the following season too.  They further missed in 1987-88 and 1992-93, the year before they won the Cup.

Other seasons the Rangers missed: 1997-98, 1998-99, 2001-02, 2002-03, 2003-04 and 2009-10.  That accounts for 16 of the 40 years.

The NHL also didn't do the teams any favors.  From 1974-75 through to the 1979-80, the two teams played in separate Conferences, meaning each team had to win 2-3 rounds to face each other.  

The 1979-80 season saw the odds increase dramatically, but the newly installed format lasted just one year.  By 1980-81, the league had switched to a Divisional playoff format, which again meant that both teams had to win two rounds before a potential meeting could take place.  

In 1993-94 the format changed to something more akin to what we know today, and the Bruins did come within 2 wins of facing off against the Rangers in the Eastern Conference Finals.  

From 1998-2004 the Rangers would miss the playoffs, and following the lockout that cancelled the 2005 playoffs, the Bruins would miss a further two years.  In 2008-09 they came close again, but ultimately the Rangers blew their 3-1 series lead over the Capitals, and exited the playoffs.

We take a year by year look at why they never met.

1973-74
The league at the time was organized into an East Division and West Division.  The top four teams of each division qualified for the playoffs, with the one seed playing the four seed, and two-three seeds meeting.  They then bracketed the East 1st/4th game with the West 2nd/3rd seed.

At the end of the regular season, the Bruins qualified 1st in the East, the Rangers 3rd, and as such they were separated into different brackets.  Both teams would get through their first round matchups, but the Rangers would ultimately go down to the Flyers in a seven game series during the semi-finals.

1974-75
For the following season, the league re-organized into four divisions aligned to two conferences.  The Bruins joined the Prince of Wales Conference in the Adams Division, while the Rangers ended up in the Clarence Campbell Conference in the Patrick Division.  The teams would have to make it to the Cup Final to now play each other.

Neither team would make it out of the Best of 3 Preliminary Round

1975-76 and 1976-77
The Rangers failed to qualify for the playoffs

1977-78
Back in the playoffs, the Rangers once again failed to progress beyond the preliminary round, while the Bruins would lose 4-2 to the Canadiens in the Cup Final

1978-79
Once again starting on different sides of the playoff bracket, the Bruins made it to the Semifinals before being knocked off again by the Canadiens. while the Rangers made it to the Cup Final and likewise lost to Montreal

1979-80
For the 1979-80 season, the league added four teams from the WHA and also changed the playoffs structure.  The previous preliminary round format, where division winners would get a bye was modified, and 16 teams instead of 12 qualified for the playoffs.  The NHL also seeded regardless of Divsion/Conference, meaning there was a greater chance the teams would meet.

The Bruins finished the season as the 4th seed, the Rangers 8th, and both made it through the Preliminary round.  Both teams would lose 4-1 in the Quarterfinals.

1980-81
New York made it through to the Semifinals despite a 13th seed, while the 8th seeded Bruins fell in the first round.

1981-82
The NHL changed the playoff format once again to make it less likely once again that the Rangers and Bruins would meet.  The Patrick Division moved into the Prince of Wales Conference to reflect more of an eastern geographical influence, but the teams would now play a Division Semifinal and Division Final before potentially meeting in the Conference Final.

Both teams would win their respective Division Semifinals, but loss their Division Finals.

1982-83
The Rangers got within two wins of meeting the Bruins in the Conference Finals, but lost to the eventual Cup winning Islanders in the Patrick Division Finals

1983-84 and 1984-85
Neither team won in the Division Semifinals

1985-86
The Bruins would once again lose in the Division Semifinals, though the Rangers would make it all the way to the Conference Final

1986-87
Neither team won in the Division Semifinals

1987-88
The Rangers failed to qualify for the playoffs

1988-89
New York made it back into the playoffs, but lost in the Division Semifinals, the Bruins would lose in the Adams Division Finals

1989-90 through to 1991-92
The Bruins would make it to the Cup Final in 1990 and then back to the Conference Final in 1991 and 1992, but the Rangers would lose to Washington in 1990 (DF) and 1991 (DSF) and then to the Penguins in 1992 (DF)

1992-93
Roger Neilson would get fired as a result of the Rangers failing to make the playoffs following a President's trophy the year before.

1993-94
In a year the Rangers would go on to win their first Stanley Cup in 54 years, the league once again tinkered with the playoff format.  Instead of Honorifics, the league switched back to Geographical Conference names, and changed seeding to align by Conference rather than Division.

As a result, the Rangers and Bruins - both in the Eastern Conference, had a much greater chance of meeting.  Both teams progressed past the Conference Quarterfinals, but the Bruins came up 2 wins short in the Semifinals, losing to the Devils 4-2.  The Devils would go on to lose to the Rangers in 7 games in the Conference Final.

1994-95 and 1996-96
In both seasons the Bruins would lose in the Quarterfinals, and the Rangers in the Semifinals

1996-97
The Bruins failed to qualify for the playoffs

1997-98 thru to 2003-04
The Rangers would go through their longest playoff drought in franchise history, missing out for seven straight seasons.  The Bruins would also fail to qualify for 1999-00 and 2000-01.

2004-05
The NHL cancelled the entire season after they and the NHLPA could not come to terms on a new CBA

2005-06 and 2006-07
The Bruins failed to qualify

2007-08
As the 5th (Rangers) and 8th (Bruins) seeds, it was always going to be a longshot that the teams would meet, and the Bruins failed to make it out of the Quarterfinals, the Rangers losing in the Semis

2008-09
This was probably the closest the Rangers and Bruins had come to a matchup, with two opportunities to meet in the playoffs narrowly avoided.

The Bruins would finish the year as the #1 Eastern Conference seed, while the Rangers finished just three points ahead of the matching #8 seed, with two more points than Montreal and two more wins.  

A second round match-up could've been on the cards, but the Rangers would blow a 3-1 series lead over the Capitals and lose the Quarterfinals.  The Bruins ultimately lost to the Hurricanes in the Semis.

2009-10
The Rangers failed to qualify for the playoffs

2010-11
Boston would go onto win the Cup, coming from the 3rd seed, while the Rangers never made it out of the Quartefinals as the #8 seed, losing 4-1 to the #1 seeded Capitals.

2011-12
The Rangers and Bruins would finish #1 and #2 in the East, but Boston would not make it out of the Quarterfinals, losing to the same Capitals who eliminated the Rangers the season before.  New York would eventually lose to the Devils in the Eastern Conference Finals.



Profile of the Author:
Has been an active follower of the New York Rangers since the 1996-97 season. Began OutsideTheGarden.com in 2001, and has continued to collect data and provide analysis on the team through to the current day.

 Additional stories from Toby Ivey:


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