Rangers going for 4 in a row with a big game in Columbus

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NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JANUARY 19: Brendan Lemieux #48 of the New York Rangers skates against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Madison Square Garden on January 19, 2020 in New York City. The Blue Jackets defeated the Rangers 2-1. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

It’s a quick turnaround for the New York Rangers.  Fresh off their shootout win in Minnesota it’s off to Ohio for a game with huge playoff ramifications.

Pinch yourselves New  York Rangers fans.  It’s Valentines Day and we are still talking about the playoffs.  It may be a dream, but the reality is the Blueshirts are still in the hunt and a win over the Columbus Blue Jackets would be a tremendous boost to their confidence as they continue this journey.

The Playoff Probabilities Report  at hockeyreference.com gives the Rangers a 9.9% chance at making the playoffs.  It’s based on 1,000 simulations of the remainder of the season.  Those odds aren’t great and there are only eight teams with worse odds, but it’s still better than it’s been since the rebuild was announced and the odds get better with ever win.  The key is to keep winning.

The Rangers remain nine points behind both Philadelphia and Columbus for a wild card spot. The Blueshirts have two games in hand on both teams so theoretically they are five points out if they win both games.  It’s an optimistic way of looking at it, but it’s also reality.

It’s a good time to be going into Columbus.  The Blue Jackets are the best story in the NHL this season.  A team that was devastated by free agent departures and given no chance of any success is in the first wild card slot and only three points out of second place in the Metropolitan Division.

They’ve done this despite a slew of injuries, but it finally may be catching up to them.  The latest to join the walking wounded was forward Cam Atkinson with a sprained ankle.  That came on the heels of the news that defenseman Seth Jones would be out for over two months with an ankle injury.

After going 9-2 in January, the Blue Jackets have stumbled this month, winning only three of seven games.  You have to give them credit for keeping games close as they have gone to overtime in five of those games and gotten at least a point in every game this month.  They come into this game on a three game losing streak, their first streak that long since early December.

The teams have split the first two games this season with the Rangers winning 3-2 on the road and losing a 2-1 heartbreaker last month when Oliver Bjorkstrand scored the game winner with only 27 seconds left in the game.

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