With the Rangers comfortably in first place in the east for the time being, it’s no secret they could sleep walk into the playoffs. They would only have to win about another 7 games this year to “guarantee” themselves a spot in the playoffs. I know Tortorella won’t let the Rangers do that, but I also know he won’t do another thing, and that’s trying to win the President’s Trophy.
Coach Tortorella’s philosophy this season at least is think about the game at hand and the opponent. Then when that game is over it’s thinking about the next game. This philosophy has definitely worked and the players have bought into it. But with the President’s Trophy in sight I think the team has to put that as one of it’s goals.
Before the season started I think any knowledgeable hockey fan would have said it’s nearly impossible for the Rangers to win the President’s Trophy and quite frankly I would have said the same thing at the possibility. The Rangers have to get out of that mindset though. They have to compare themselves to the teams that have been at the top of the NHL for the past few years like Vancouver, Boston, and Detroit and think they are better than them.
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Obviously if the team falls short of the President’s Trophy I don’t think they’d be upset, but again they have to try. I think home ice advantage is huge throughout the playoffs and should not be overlooked. I can’t even begin to tell you how many series I think could have been decided by which team had home ice advantage or not.
First place in the Eastern conference would be a nice consolation prize for the Rangers if they did fall short for the President’s Trophy. Right now it’s basically a four team race for the President’s Trophy between St. Louis, Vancouver, Detroit, and our very own New York Rangers. To the Rangers benefit they are the only eastern team in the race and they only have to play one of those three teams once. They play Detroit in March at MSG.
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