Analyzing Rangers’ potential Round 1 NHL playoff opponents

Analyzing Rangers’ potential Round 1 NHL playoff opponents

The NHL standings board within the Rangers’ locker room can be watched fastidiously over the following week, for it’ll eventfully reveal what crew they are going to be squaring off with in Spherical 1 of the playoffs. 

With three video games left within the common season, the Blueshirts are locked in for at the least second place within the Metropolitan Division and home-ice benefit within the first spherical. The Rangers have tackled aim after aim, first securing a spot within the playoffs for the primary time in 5 years earlier than incomes the precise to kick off the collection at Madison Sq. Backyard. 

The following aim can be to complete the common season as the highest seed within the division, which the Rangers are actually 4 factors adrift of after their 3-1 loss to the Bruins on Saturday. Their loss, plus the Hurricanes’ comeback victory over the Devils Saturday and 5-2 win over the Isles on Sunday gave Carolina its additional cushion. 

“We watched it since you all the time watch a sport,” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant stated when requested if he was listening to the Hurricanes. “It was 2-0 [Saturday], then abruptly, it was 3-2. We wish to end first. We wish to win each sport we play. However on the finish of the day, when the season’s over, if we’re first or second, we nonetheless have house ice. It’s what it’s, however we wish to try to win as many video games as we are able to.” 

Hurricanes gamers have fun throughout their win over the Islanders Sunday. USA TODAY Sports activities

Relying on how the ultimate stretch of the common season shakes out, there are three groups the Rangers are more than likely to play within the first spherical. 

If the season ended immediately, the Rangers would face the Penguins. That matchup has been essentially the most anticipated, contemplating the 2 groups have held onto second and third within the Metro, respectively, for the final couple months. Pittsburgh would in all probability be the Rangers’ most desired opponent, particularly after the way in which the ultimate three video games of their regular-season collection went. 

After getting shutout 1-0 in Pittsburgh in February, the Rangers handily defeated the Penguins within the subsequent three conferences by a mixed rating of 11-3. Of their final matchup with the Penguins on April 7, the Rangers’ 3-0 win proved to be one in all their most full video games of the season. 

The truth that the Rangers have performed the Penguins thrice within the final two months would even be helpful. 

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Penguins’ Sidney Crosby (87) reacts after scoring. AP

Had the Rangers overwhelmed the Bruins on Saturday and maintained a first-place tie with the Canes, the chance of a Rangers-Bruins matchup would have elevated. The Bruins had a two-point cushion on the Capitals for the highest wild-card spot within the East and are in line to open the playoffs in opposition to the Metropolitan Division champion. 

Boston had an opportunity to pad that lead much more once they confronted the Canadiens, whereas the Capitals might keep within the hunt with a win over the Maple Leafs on Sunday night time. 

The Rangers have gained two of the three video games they performed in opposition to the Bruins this season, however Saturday wasn’t an encouraging preview ought to a playoff collection fall into place. Granted, the Rangers have been lacking a handful of key gamers, whereas the Bruins had some lineup staples return. 

Washington was two factors behind the Penguins with a sport in hand earlier than going through Toronto on Sunday. If the Caps are capable of surpass Pittsburgh within the Metro and the Rangers keep in second, or if Washington pulls forward of Boston within the wild-card race and the Blueshirts soar to first, a Rangers-Capitals collection may very well be on the horizon. 

The Rangers will face the Capitals within the last sport of the common season Friday. 

“Everyone is aware of going into the sport that the crew we’re enjoying [we could see again down the line],” Kevin Rooney stated earlier this week. “However I don’t assume it’s talked about as a lot. I feel what we’ve completed a terrific job of this 12 months — at the least Turk’s message has been all the time about us. Even going into the Islanders sport [Thursday night], we confirmed a variety of clips earlier than the sport on our sport and never an excessive amount of on theirs. 

“I feel that’s big this time of 12 months, is simply specializing in our sport. We’re undecided who we’re going to play, regardless of who we’re going to play, it’s all going to be about the way in which we play and what makes us profitable. 

“At the back of our heads, we wish to hold enjoying our sport and doing the precise issues and the wins and losses hopefully will care for itself.”

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