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  • Writer's pictureDerek Ochej

Team Checklists - Patrick Division

The second division in the Prince of Wales Conference is named after Lester Patrick, a legendary player and coach. The entire Patrick family was involved in the early days of professional hockey, with Lester forming the Pacific Coast Hockey Association alongside his father and brother. The PCHA would prove the major rival to the NHL (and its precursor the NHA), with each league's top team facing off for the Stanley Cup. The Patricks would also invent several rules that are still in the game today, such as the blue line, the penalty shot, the forward pass and allowing goalies to fall to the ice to make a save. Lester Patrick was also an accomplished pro, playing in the NHA, NHL and PCHA. His most famous playing moment, though, came after he retired. As coach/GM of the New York Rangers, he was forced to take over for goalie Lorne Chabot, lost to injury, in the middle of Game 2 of the 1928 Cup finals. The Rangers would win the game in overtime behind Lester's goaltending, and go on to win the Stanley Cup.

Overall, Patrick won six Stanley Cups as a player, coach and general manager. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1947 and the Lester Patrick Trophy is awarded annually for outstanding contributions to hockey in the United States.

Card # 90: New York Rangers - Darren Turcotte

In the 1990-91 season, the Rangers finished second in the Patrick Division, three points behind first place Pittsburgh. After taking a 2-1 series lead in their division semi-final against Washington, the Rangers would lose three in a row and be eliminated.

Coached by the one and only Roger Neilson, the Rangers would win the Patrick Division, as well as the President's Trophy, in 1991-92 with a 50-25-5 record. The team was led in scoring by veterans Mark Messier (35-72-107) and Brian Leetch (22-80-102); Messier would win the Hart Trophy as MVP and Leetch the Norris Trophy as best defenceman. The Rangers also boasted young stars Tony Amonte (35-34-69) and Doug Weight (8-22-30). In goal the team was led by the tandem of John Vanbiesbrouck (27-13-3, 2.85 GAA, .910 save percentage) and sophomore Mike Richter (23-12-2, 3.11 GAA, .901 save percentage).

In the playoffs the Rangers would defeat their cross-state rivals the New Jersey Devils in seven games in the division semi-final before coming up short against the defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins in the division final. New York would lead the series 2-1 after winning Game 3 on a Kris King overtime winner. However that is as close as the team would get to advancing, dropping the next three games in a row to the eventual repeat champs.

Just prior to the start of the season the Rangers would make a splash on the trade market, acquiring the Edmonton Oilers’ captain, Mark Messier, for a package including Bernie Nicholls, Louie DeBrusk and Steven Rice.

Card # 98: Washington Capitals - Kevin Hatcher

In 1990-91 the Caps finished third in the Patrick Division (37-36-7), five points clear of fifth place Philadelphia for a playoff spot. They managed to upset the Rangers in six game in the division semi-final before facing Pittsburgh in the division final. Washington would steal Game 1 before dropping four straight games to the eventual champs.

Washington would improve to second place in the Patrick Division (45-27-8) in 1991-92, coached by Terry Murray. Michal Pivonka would lead the team in points (23-57-80) and Dino Ciccarelli led the team in goals (38). In goal, Washington boasted the veteran duo of Don Beaupre (29-16-7, 3.20 GAA, .884 save percentage) and Mike Liut (10-7-2, 3.74 GAA, .875 save percentage).

The playoffs would see a rematch with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the division semi-final. The Caps would storm out to a 3-1 series lead, but then drop three straight games to lose in seven, again to the eventual champs.

Card # 92: Pittsburgh Penguins - Mark Recchi

In 1990-91, the Penguins finished first in the Patrick Division with a 41-33-6 record, three points ahead of the Rangers. The would defeat New Jersey, Washington and Boston to make it to the franchise's first Stanley Cup final. They would face the Cinderella-story Minnesota North Stars, a team that lost 14 more games than Pittsburgh. The Pens would defeat Minnesota in six games to win their first Cup.

For the 1991-92 season, the Penguins would be coached by the legendary Scotty Bowman, who took over from Bob Johnson, who would tragically die of brain cancer in November of that season. The Penguins would fall to a tie for third in the Patrick Division with New Jersey with 87 points. The team was led in scoring by Mario Lemieux (44-87-131) and Kevin Stevens (54-69-123 and 254 penalty minutes). In goal, the enigmatic Tom Barrasso sported a 25-22-9 record and a 3.53 GAA as the starter.

In the division semi-final the Penguins would fall behind 3 games to 1 to Washington before storming back to win three in a row and take the series. Next they would defeat the President's Trophy winning New York Rangers in six games. After defeating the Rangers in Game 4 of the semi-final, the Penguins would not lose again, reeling off 11 straight victories, including a sweep of Boston in the conference final and Chicago in the Stanley Cup final to secure back-to-back Cups. Mario Lemieux would capture his second straight Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.

On February 19, 1992 the Pens would be involved in a three way trade between division rival Philadelphia and Los Angeles. The Penguins would turn Paul Coffey, Brian Benning, Jeff Chychrun and 1st round pick into Rick Tocchet, Kjell Samuelsson and Ken Wregget.

This Penguins team had to be one of the most talented of all-time. Throughout the season, eight Hall of Famers played on the team (Lemieux, Recchi, Coffey, Joe Mullen, Larry Murphy, Ron Francis, Bryan Trottier and coach Scotty Bowman).

Card # 88: New Jersey Devils - John MacLean

In the 1990-91 season the Devils finished fourth in the Patrick Division with a 32-33-15 record. They would qualify for the playoffs three points ahead of Philadelphia and draw Pittsburgh in the division semi-final. The Devils managed to take a 3-2 series lead, but would drop Game 6 and 7 to Pittsburgh.

For 1991-92, coached by Tom McVie, the Devils again finished tied for third in the Patrick Division, with an improved 38-31-11 record. The team was led in scoring by a cluster of four players: Claude Lemieux (41-27-68), Stephane Richer (29-35-64), Kevin Todd (21-42-63) and Peter Stastny (24-38-62). The starting goalie was Chris Terreri, who posted a 22-22-10 record. In just two years time, some guy named Martin Brodeur would take over the Devils crease for the foreseeable future.

The Devils drew the division-leading New York Rangers in the division semi-final. They would put up a fight, avoiding elimination in Game 6 with a 5-3 win, but would drop Game 7 by an 8-4 score.

Prior to the start of the season, the Devils acquired Tom Chorske and Stephane Richer from Montreal for Kirk Muller and goalie Rollie Melanson. The previous year the Devils acquired Claude Lemieux from the Habs for Sylvain Turgeon. Lemieux and Richer would finish 1-2 in scoring for the Devils in 1991-92.

Card # 89: New York Islanders - David Volek

In 1990-91, the Islanders finished last in the Patrick Division (25-45-10), and third last in the NHL ahead of only the Toronto Maple Leafs and Quebec Nordiques.

Coached by the legendary Al Arbour, the Islanders improved in 1991-92, finishing fifth in the Patrick Division with a 34-35-11 record, however they would miss the playoffs by eight points. Pierre Turgeon (38-49-87) and Ray Ferraro (40-40-80) led the team in scoring. Glenn Healy (14-16-4, 3.80 GAA, .881 save percentage) and Mark Fitzpatrick (11-13-5, 3.20 GAA, .902 save percentage) split the goaltending duties.

On a single day in October, the Islanders pulled off two blockbuster trades, first acquiring Pat LaFontaine, Randy Hillier and Randy Wood from Buffalo for Benoit Hogue, Uwe Krupp, Dave McLlwain and Pierre Turgeon. The Islanders then traded captain and 10-year veteran Brent Sutter, along with Brad Lauer, to Chicago for Adam Creighton and Steve Thomas.

Card # 91: Philadelphia Flyers - Rick Tocchet

In 1990-91 the Flyers finished fifth in the Patrick Division, three points out of the playoffs, boasting a 33-37-10 record.

They started the 1991-92 season with Paul Holmgren as coach, who was eventually fired and replaced by Bill Dineen. The team dropped to last in the Patrick Division with an extremely similar record to 1990-91, going 32-37-11, four points behind the New York Islanders.

The team was led in scoring by the newly acquired Rod Brind’Amour (33-44-77). Ron Hextall was the starting goalie in what would be his sixth and final season with the Flyers (he would return for five more season beginning in 1994-95); he would finish the season with a 16-21-6 record, 3.40 GAA, .883 save percentage, and only 35 penalty minutes.

The Flyers franchise was five seasons removed from a Stanley Cup final and had been languishing near the bottom of the Patrick Division since that time. 1991-92 was the season in which the team started rebuilding, making four notable trades:

  • A three-way trade between Edmonton and Los Angeles that resulted in Philadelphia acquiring Dave Brown, Corey Foster, Steve Kasper and Steve Duchesne while shipping out Scott Mellanby, Craig Berube and Jeff Chychrun.

  • Acquiring future stalwart Rod Brind’Amour, along with Dan Quinn from St. Louis for Murray Baron and Ron Sutter.

  • Acquiring future captain Kevin Dineen (and son of coach Bill) from Hartford for Murray Craven.

  • Acquiring Mark Recchi, Brian Benning and 1st round pick from Pittsburgh for Rick Tocchett, Ken Wregget and Kjell Samuelsson.

Our next post will feature the Campbell Conference's Norris Division.

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