Rangers not concerned about Presidents’ Trophy ahead of games vs. Bruins, Panthers

NHL: New York Rangers at Boston Bruins
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

With under four weeks remaining in the NHL regular season, the New York Rangers are among a group of eight teams with a realistic chance to win the Presidents’ Trophy.

But Rangers coach Peter Laviolette doesn’t spend any time concerning himself with that. 

“We don’t talk about being first overall. We haven’t mentioned it,” Laviolette explained Wednesday. “We talk about winning games and collecting points.”

The Presidents’ Trophy is awarded annually to the team that finishes with the most points in the NHL regular season. It’s a significant achievement and with that comes home-ice advantage throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Rangers are first in the Metropolitan Division with 94 points and have 13 games to play. They are tied for second overall in the League with the Florida Panthers and Vancouver Canucks, three points behind the Boston Bruins (97).

The Winnipeg Jets, Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars are also in the hunt for the Presidents’ Trophy with 93 points apiece. And the Carolina Hurricanes have 92.

Related: Brennan Othmann ‘grateful’ to remain with Rangers after trade deadline

Rangers don’t ‘talk about’ winning Presidents’ Trophy

NHL: New York Rangers at Boston Bruins
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Laviolette was asked about finishing first overall because the Rangers visit the Bruins on Thursday and host the Panthers on Saturday. Those could be key games to determine who’ll end up No. 1 in the NHL this season.

“We’re going into the game [Thursday] trying to beat a really good hockey team and try to collect those two points,” Laviolette said. “That’s the objective. And I suppose if we were able to do that consistently through the remaining games, there’s a chance that might happen. But that’s not what we talk about.”

Laviolette did admit that he’s aware of what’s happening in regards to the NHL standings.

“I look at the standings just to see who the top teams are, where the playoffs teams are, where that wild card spot sits, who’s moving up and down. Yeah, sure, I look at it. I’m sure everybody does.”

The Rangers have won the Presidents’ Trophy three times, most recently in 2014-15. They had a franchise-record 113 points that season but lost in seven games to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Final.

And there’s the rub. Finishing first overall guarantees a team nothing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The 2013 Chicago Blackhawks are the most recent team to win both the Presidents’ Trophy and Stanley Cup in the same season. The Rangers also did so in the 1993-94 season.

But look no further than last season when the Bruins set an NHL record with 135 points but lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Panthers.

“If you are asking me if we want to win the game [Thursday], we sure do,” Laviolette said. “And then if we go to the next day and you’re asking me if we want to win that game, we sure do. And if that leads to us being first overall, then that’s the way it played out.”

Jim Cerny is Executive Editor at Forever Blueshirts and Managing Editor at Sportsnaut, with more than 30 years of... More about Jim Cerny

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