David Quinn gave Anthony Bitetto one of the all-time backhanded compliments for his third career goal
Normally, a journeyman NHL defenseman scoring his third career goal would be neither notable nor special. This was not the case for 30-year-old Anthony Bitetto, who made his debut as a New York Ranger earlier this week in a win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Bitetto, who grew up on Long Island, made stops in Nashville, Minnesota and Winnipeg before lacing up the skates for the first time as a Blueshirt on Monday. "It was a speechless moment," Bitetto said of stepping on the Madison Square Garden ice as a Ranger. "My whole life growing up, it was nothing but Rangers. So, to finally put on that jersey in a real game, it was a special moment."
His first outing was a typical, gritty night for him - 14:51 minutes, two blocked shots, four hits and two penalty minutes. Not much on the offensive end, which has been the case his whole career. Prior to Monday, Bitetto had scored two career goals and had 25 assists in 183 NHL games. But then came Thursday night—Rangers vs. Caps at MSG—when Bitetto decided to randomly go on X-Games mode to pot his first NHL goal since November 17, 2018, the third of his career, his first as a Ranger:
Most watching likely did a double take. Was that Artemi Panarin? Chris Kreider? Some young guy the Rangers just called up? Nope, it was Bitetto scoring for the first time in 112 games, and doing it in freaking STYLE. "It was magical," he said afterward. "You put that jersey on and weird things happen." Yes, kind of like a dude with two goals as a pro randomly turning into Connor McDavid:
Legendary stuff. Unforgettable stuff. Nobody summed it up better than his head coach, David Quinn, who had the ultimate "no...no......noo.....YES!!!" moment as a coach watching Bitetto dangle all of Washington, D.C.:
Yep, nailed it.