Looking At Potential Rangers First Round Opponents
As a new playoff season approaches on the horizon, now would be an excellent time to check out the New York Rangers potential opponents for their first round series, now deemed the “Metropolitan Division semi-final” thanks to the new realignment, put into effect this season.
Although the Rangers have not mathematically clinched just yet, sportsclubstats.com has their playoff chances at 100%, which guarantees them one of the remaining spots.
If you need a refresher on how playoff seedings and things of that nature now work, click here.
The Rangers could have booked their ticket on Saturday night in their game against the Ottawa Senators, but some defensive mishaps in the early stages of the game has forced them to wait a little bit longer.
I saw many people raging on the twittersphere after the loss that night, and I will be the first to admit that I was one of them, mainly because of this:
A late hit by Sens forward Chris Neil which sent Marc Staal dangerously flying toward the ice. Staal countered shortly after, but was thrown to the ice by Neil and punched a few times in the face in the process. For some odd reason, Staal was assessed a double minor for roughing, while Neil only got two minutes. In my opinion, Neil should have received another two minutes for interference, because the hit was extremely late as the puck was already in the corner when he made contact with Staal.
But, no matter, that is behind the team now, and they must set their sights on these last three remaining games, because no matter what the prediction sites say, it’s always better knowing you have a little wiggle room when you clinch that pivotal playoff position.
The first, and most likely opponent for the Rangers in the first round will be the Philadelphia Flyers. A book-worthy matchup, which will surely be a blood-bath and there will be no mercy when these two teams meet, especially in the playoffs. The long-time rivalry will be jumped up a notch.
Record Against Philadelphia: 2-2, Both Wins at Home, 10 Goals For, 8 Against
The second potential opponent for the Rangers is the Columbus Blue Jackets. A team which saw former Rangers Artem Anisimov and Brandon Dubinsky make their new home. Currently in possession of the second wild-card spot, and just two points behind the Flyers for third in the metro. Their playoff chances are currently 87.2 percent. That is because they are on the verge of being caught by the New Jersey Devils.
Record Against Columbus: 2-1-1, Only Loss was at CBJ, 12 Goals For, 10 Against
The Devils are more of a dark-horse if anything, but they are a potential opponent. With four games remaining, they have a chance of picking up eight points, which would be enough to jump them in front of Columbus and Philly, but both of those teams would have to lose out in order for that to happen. Either way, I would not be against this matchup. The same two teams who played the in the memorable 2012 Eastern Conference Final, where the Devils came out on top in six games. The Rangers will be looking for revenge if pitted against their rivals across the Hudson.
Record Against NJ: 2-2-1, Both Wins on Road (1 at Yankee Stadium), 14 Goals For, 14 Against
The Rangers can clinch a spot tonight if the Devils lose to the Calgary Flames in any fashion (regulation, OT, shootout). If the Devils pull out a win, New York will have to pick up a point tomorrow against the Carolina Hurricanes if they want their ticket punched.
The Rangers are also hoping for both Ryan McDonagh (shoulder) and Chris Kreider (hand) to be ready for the playoffs, they are currently listed day-to-day.