New York Rangers can still capture first place as Hurricanes fall to Red Wings

new york rangers
Apr 12, 2022; New York, New York, USA; Carolina Hurricanes center Vincent Trocheck (16) takes a high stick from New York Rangers center Barclay Goodrow (21) during the second period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports
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When the New York Rangers lost to the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday, there was almost an unspoken sense of focusing on securing second-place.

“We had a tough loss,” head coach Gerard Gallant said afterwards. “We played well for the most part. We’ve got to rebound and compete.”

They came back the next night by beating the Philadelphia Flyers soundly 4-0 to close the gap back to two points, but the Canes had a game in hand and were facing the Red Wings next. Surely, they would regain their four point cushion.

Well, the lottery destined Wings took them out 3-0 which puts the possibility of first-place within reach once again for the Blueshirts.

New York Rangers can still capture first place

On Saturday afternoon, the Rangers will take on the same Detroit Red Wings squad at the Garden.

If the Blueshirts can defeat the Wings they will tie the Hurricanes at 104 points.

Beating the Wings is no given. However, one thing the Rangers have done is respect their opponents with an understanding that no one is just going to lay down.

“We’re getting ready for (the playoffs),” Gallant said. “Hopefully we keep playing well down the stretch.”

Taking care of your own business is one thing, but New York does not control their destiny when it comes to capturing first-place. They will be dependent on other teams playing the Canes to help out.

Here’s a look at the remaining schedules for both teams:

@ COL 4/16vs DET 4/16
@ AZ 4/18vs WPG 4/19
vs WPG 4/21@NYI 4/21
@ NJ 4/23@ BOS 4/23
@ NYI 4/24vs CAR 4/26
@ NYR 4/26vs MTL 4/27
vs NJD 4/28vs WSH 4/29
NYR v CAR remaining schedule

The most noticeable difference is that the Hurricanes are on the road for five of their final seven games, while the Rangers have just two games left away from home.

On the flip side, the Canes only have two games against the playoff teams with one of them being on the road against the high-powered Avalanche. The Rangers have three with the Bruins and Capitals both fighting hard to avoid a first round matchup against the Florida Panthers.

Of course, the key game takes place on 4/26 with the two teams face each other for the last time in the regular season at Madison Square Garden. That game could decide which team takes first place in the Metro Division.

Even if the Rangers winning that game puts them in a tie for the top spot, they will have two games remaining to the Canes one, which could be the difference.

At this time, Money Puck has the Rangers with only a 17.4% chance to take the division. I wonder how much that may change after Saturday.

Balancing first place and resting players

rangers first place
James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers have already begun resting some of their regulars starting with Alexis Lafreniere versus the Flyers on Thursday night.

Their are several other candidates that could use a rest. Four players have currently played every single game of the Rangers season. Defensemen Jacob Trouba and K’Andre Miller, plus forwards Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider have not missed a contest.

Resting them will be tricky, but Trouba in particular should get time off.

Trouba, 28, is averaging 22:29 minutes per game and plays a physical brand of hockey. This season he’s racked up 199 hits and several fighting majors. Somewhere down the stretch, Gallant is going to have to give him a game off, and start to limit his minutes in preparation for the post season.

Read more about who the Rangers should rest here.

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Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore

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