New York Rangers: Crawling Into a Possible Playoff Spot

Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports /

It’s that time of the year where every point counts in the NHL. Teams are fighting for playoff position, while teams out of the playoffs are fighting for pride.

With just eight games reaming, the New York Rangers find themselves in a familiar spot, holding some leverage going into the playoffs. However, last season they were in a similar spot, and well, we all know how that ended.

This time last season, the Rangers were sitting in second place in the Metropolitan Division. With eight games remaining, they had 92 points, and what seemed to be a somewhat easier schedule. Nonetheless, they lost the second spot to the red-hot Pittsburgh Penguins, and then battled the New York Islanders for the first wild card spot.

After losing the first wild card spot, the Rangers crawled into the playoffs and got smoked by the Penguins in the first round. While the Islanders defeated the Florida Panters advancing to the second round, a place they haven’t been since 1993.

This year, the Metropolitan Division is the best in the league. The Washington Capitals (102 pts), the Penguins (101 pts) and the Columbus Blue Jackets (100 pts) make up the first three playoff slots while the Rangers sit in the first wild card spot with 94 points and the Islanders, another team in the Metropolitan Division, are tied with the Boston Bruins, each holding 82 points.

It makes all the sense in the world for the Rangers to want to stay in that first wild card spot. Seeing that they would bypass the Metropolitan Division in the first two rounds. Nonetheless, that doesn’t mean they should want to lose.

In thier last six games, the Rangers have let valuable points slip away. Their record in those six games is 2-2-2. The two overtime losses came at the hands of the Panthers and New Jersey Devils. Two teams whose playoff hopes are nonexistent.

New York Rangers
New York Rangers /

New York Rangers

The one thing the Rangers don’t want to do is crawl into the playoffs, again. You want to get there and prove you belong there. That starts with winning the last few games of the season and using that momentum in the playoffs.

This year’s finish to the season will be a little more challenging than last season’s. The Rangers have a West Coast trip, followed by the Penguins, Capitals, Piheldelphia Flyers and Ottawa Senators waiting in the wings.

On the bright side for the Rangers, five of their last eight games remaining games are on the road, where they have the best record in the league (26-9-1). Compared to their home record (19-16-3), you’d almost would prefer to not have home-ice advantage in the playoffs.

Forget about home ice advantage. The Rangers have not won a game at Madison Square Garden since February 19th, a  2-1 win over the Capitals.

Next: Steve McDonald Award Prediction

Could this West Coast trip be what the team needs to get their game together? It looks like we are about to find out…