Another blue jersey soon will hang from the Madison Square Garden rafters.
No. 19, worn by Jean Ratelle, the smooth-skating, playmaking center of the GAG (Goal-a-Game) line that included Rod Gilbert and Vic Hadfield, will be raised sometime next season, the Rangers announced Saturday.
Ratelle scored 109 points in 63 games in 1971-72, when the Rangers advanced to the Stanley Cup Final, and had 336 goals and 817 points in 862 games in 16 seasons with the Blueshirts. He played his final five-plus seasons for the Bruins and retired in 1981.
The 76-year-old Quebec native won the Lady Byng Trophy twice and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Sept. 12, 1985.
His jersey will be the ninth honored, alongside Eddie Giacomin’s 1, Brian Leetch’s 2, Harry Howell’s 3, Gilbert’s 7, Andy Bathgate’s and Adam Graves’ 9, Mark Messier’s 11 and Mike Richter’s 35.
Playing tough ‘D’
With improved play in the defensive zone, the Rangers have held opponents to 17 goals in the last eight games, seven of them wins.
“In the last couple weeks, we’ve been in position, putting pucks where we can get to them before they do, putting rebounds in the corner or just swallowing them when we need a break,” Marc Staal said. “We did a lot of that today. A lot of talk, getting sticks in, moving guys out of the way and listening to him [Henrik Lundqvist].”
Lundqvist tied Chris Osgood for 11th place on the NHL’s wins list with 401. He has a 9-2-0 record, a 2.01 goals-against average, a .937 save percentage and a shutout in his last 12 appearances . . . Mats Zuccarello’s goal was the team’s league-leading 81st in third periods.