Who Poses the Biggest Threat to the Rangers in the Postseason?


Mar 10, 2015; Uniondale, NY, USA; New York Rangers left wing

Rick Nash

(61) takes a shot past New York Islanders defenseman

Johnny Boychuk

(55) during the third period at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The Rangers defeated the Islanders 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

With only 14 games remaining for the New York Rangers, you can almost smell the postseason. The front office, coaches, personnel, and most definitely the fans are hungry to get back to the Stanley Cup Finals. However, last year is history, and figuratively speaking, so is this year’s regular season. This Spring is going to bring a new monster, with different challenges and speed bumps along the way. Who could be the Rangers’ biggest threat to not getting out of the Eastern Conference?

3. Montreal Canadiens

The Rangers took it right to the Canadiens in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals, taking the series 4-2. However, they did so with the Habs’ star goaltender Carey Price sidelined. This year, Price is arguably playing better than any goaltender in Canadiens’ history, and that’s saying something. He leads the league in wins (38), in GAA (1.93), and in SV% (.935). Each and every night, Price seems to be bringing his “A” game. If the Rangers are to meet the Habs this year, they’ll have to dismantle Price instead of backup goalie Dustin Tokarski. Secondly, the Canadiens’ defense is upgraded. Last year right from the get go, the Rangers’ forwards were able to use their skating ability to get in behind the defense and create scoring opportunities. Price’s GAA reflects his performance primarily, but it can also be a testament to the way the Canadiens’ defense has played this year. Picking up Jeff Petry from the Edmonton Oilers at the deadline made their defensive corps a more complete unit. Inserting him into the second pairing with Tom Gilbert allowed for more depth at the blueline, behind their top guys in PK Subban and Andrei Markov. The Rangers will have to find a way to defeat this stronger Habs team if they are to cross paths. Regular season series: 2-1 MTL

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2. New York Islanders

Even though it may pain many to say, the Islanders are a legitimate threat to the Rangers this Spring. Even back when the Islanders weren’t competitive, they treated each and every matchup against the Rangers like it was their last. One can only imagine the intensity of a playoff series between these two teams, now that both are competent. Aside from that, the Islanders possess a solid group of bigger, younger forwards that match up well against the Rangers. The “kid” line of Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, and Ryan Strome seem to set the tone of each matchup with physical, spirited forecheck. The Islanders’ offensive minded group of defenseman often jump into the rush, giving the Rangers more than they could already handle. Many times the Rangers are pinned into their own zone while their Long Island counterparts cycle the puck and generate “Grade A” scoring opportunities. The Rangers must make a concerted effort to play in the Islanders’ end if they are to clash in the playoffs. The stellar play of Jaroslav Halak down on the other end complicates things even further for the Rangers. The league has been accustomed to seeing the Islanders lack a rock between the pipes, but that hasn’t been the case this year. Add John Tavares and his bid for becoming the league’s most complete player and you realize how thrilling of a matchup this could be. Regular season series: 3-2 

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  • 1. Tampa Bay Lightning

    Needless to say, the Lightning have given the Rangers fits this year. Granted, most of the games were in the early going when the Rangers were still trying to find themselves, but that is no excuse. Tampa’s group of forwards are a hard working, and highly skilled group. They have their hard working, grinder type guys like ex Rangers captain Ryan Callahan, the pure goal scorers like Steven Stamkos, and then the plethora of young talent like Jonathan Drouin and Tyler Johnson. The Lightning can beat you in a number of ways, but they are most dangerous on the rush. Head coach Jon Cooper has a team full of not only talented hockey players, but players with great hockey IQ’s. Giving scoring chance after scoring chance to the Lightning may end up being more detrimental than doing the same to any other club. Tampa Bay scores 3.21 G/GP, which leads the league. Stamkos (39), Nikita Kucherov (26) and Johnson (25) are all inside the top 20 in the league for goals scored. Only the Calgary Flames have more than one player in that list. The Lightning are balanced on the back end, up front, and in net. The Rangers will have to make minimal mistakes and capitalize on their opportunities if they are to escape Tampa Bay in the playoffs. Regular season series: 3-0 TBL

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