Pick a team, any team…
With the Rangers finally clinching a playoff spot last night with their win over Carolina, the final game of the season against the Devils has lost some significance. Don’t get me wrong, I’m tremendously grateful that the boys from Newark don’t get to play spoiler against us a week after we eliminated them from postseason contention. However, the game could be important when it comes to shuffling out the bottom of the Eastern Conference deck.
The Rangers, Islanders and Senators currently sit 6-8 in the East with 54 points. The Sens hold a game in hand on both the Rangers and Isles. At the moment, the Rangers hold the tiebreaker with 21 regulation wins to the Senators’ and Islanders’ 20. As we know, the Rangers only remaining opponent is New Jersey on Saturday, while the Isles only have lowly Buffalo remaining, and Ottawa has Philly and Boston. The final few games could have the bottom three spots in the conference shake out in a number of ways.
This got me thinking, out of the four possible opponents for the Blueshirts in the first round, is there really a preferred matchup? As the standings currently, well, stand, the Rangers could potentially matchup against Pittsburgh, Boston, Washington, or slightly less likely Montreal. Let’s have a gander at how the Rangers match up against each one…
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The Rangers dropped a tough one to the Caps tonight by the score of 4-1. The Rangers actually played pretty well, controlling most of the action after a quick Washington start. They just ran into a hot goalie and some bad luck. Washington clinched the 7th seed in the East with the win, meaning the Rangers will take on the Ottawa Senators in the first round. Onto the bullets…
- The Caps struck quick with two goals in the first 2:18 of play. Alex Ovechkin wired a shot through a tough screen right off the draw for a 1-0 lead, and Matthew Perreault deflected a shot from the point past Lundqvist for a 2-0 lead.
- The two goals seemed to wake the Rangers up a little bit. They began to get more aggressive on the forecheck and creating some chances. Braden Holtby had to make several key saves and Ryan Callahan blasted one off the post on a shorthanded chance.
- The Rangers began to take control of the puck possession and were aggressively pressuring Washington in all areas of the ice. Things were starting to tilt towards the Rangers side of the ice.
- Brad Richards then proceeded to take a hooking penalty, which the Rangers successfully killed and generated Callahan’s aforementioned post. Just as the penalty to Richards had expired, Ryan McDonagh chipped the puck directly into the crowd for a delay of game penalty.
- On the ensuing power play, John Carlson ripped a shot from the point, which glanced off Derek Stepan, and past Hank for a 3-0 Washington lead.
- Honestly, aside from something of a rough start defensively, the Rangers actually didn’t play that poorly. They caught some bad breaks on deflections and screens. Read more »