Path to first-place open for New York Rangers after Hurricanes loss

new york rangers
Apr 16, 2022; New York, New York, USA; The New York Rangers acknowledge fans after a 4-0 win against the Detroit Red Wings at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports
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The New York Rangers did what they needed to do against a non-playoff team by soundly defeating the Detroit Red Wings 4-0 on Saturday. After the final buzzer went off and they saluted the crowd, New York was tied for first-place with the Carolina Hurricanes.

Later that evening, Carolina went into Colorado to take on the high-powered Avalanche and were defeated by a 7-4 score.

However, the Hurricanes suffered more than just a loss in the standings. Two key players left the game with injury. Their captain Jordan Staal and number one netminder Frederick Andersen both went down in the third period.

“That’s really the major concern,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “It’s not a good night for us.”

Injuries now a factor in battle for first place

One thing is for sure, neither side wants to see injuries or have them be a major factor in the regular season or playoffs. Unfortunately, they are a reality in all sports.

Yesterday, the New York Rangers also suffered an injury as Kaapo Kakko took an awkward spill in the first-period and did not return.

“Lower body– I don’t think it’s too serious,” Gerard Gallant updated. “We’re being cautious and I’ll know more tomorrow.”

This has been a very tough season for the 21 year-old, who has already missed 35 games due to two separate injuries.

That’s not the only key injury the Blueshirts have suffered. Earlier this month, Tyler Motte went down with a “significant” upper-body injury and will at least miss the rest of the regular season.

“We’re not looking for him for the next 7 games that’s for sure,” the coach said. “I haven’t heard a thing, just that he’s going to be out for quite awhile.”

New York Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes coming down to the wire

alexis lafreniere
Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

While both teams wait for official word on the injuries that occurred yesterday, each have six games remaining on the schedule.

Carolina will continue on the road to face the floundering Coyotes on Monday. New York hosts the struggling Jets on Tuesday, which means a victory will either keep them tied or move them into sole possession of first place in the Metropolitan Division.

At this time, depending on the significance of Staal and Andersen’s injuries, it’s possible before the two squads faceoff on April 26 the Rangers could secure the division.

@ 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 and CAR remaining schedule

Eastern Conference playoff picture

The Washington Capitals need just one more point to clinch a playoff spot and finalize the 8 teams in the Eastern Conference. They currently hold Wild Card spot two with 94 points, which means taking on the Florida Panthers in round one.

The Pittsburgh Penguins (97 points) took another loss yesterday and are only three points up on the Caps, who have two games in hand on their rivals. It’s very possible that it will be the Pens in a Wild Card spot before the season ends.

That being said, the New York Rangers would get the third-place team if they remain in second, which could be either the Caps or Pens. However, if they finish in first they could be facing the first wild card team. That opens up a wide variety of scenarios.

Currently, that spot belongs to the Boston Bruins with 97 points. They are three points behind the Tampa Bay Lightning (100 points) as both have 7 games remaining. The Toronto Maple Leafs look comfortable as the second-place team in the Atlantic Division at 104 points.

So to quickly summarize, if the Rangers finish in second they will take on whichever team finishes third in the Metro Division between the Caps and Pens.

If they finish first, the field is much larger with the possibility of taking on either the Caps or Pens plus the Bruins or Lightning.

NHL Scores

The NHL action was hot on Saturday as 14 games were on the docket. The Flames, Bruins, and Blues all clinched a playoff spot. Check out The Daily Goal Horn for a comprehensive recap. Read more.

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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