What to expect from the next 10 games #51-60

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 25: A general view of the arena during the game between the New York Rangers and the Calgary Flames at Madison Square Garden on October 25, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 25: A general view of the arena during the game between the New York Rangers and the Calgary Flames at Madison Square Garden on October 25, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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As part of our coverage of the New  York Rangers, we are breaking down the season into 10-game sequences and making projections on how the Blueshirts will do.  The Rangers just concluded their fifth set of 10 games so here we go.

We didn’t project the first ten games, but for games #11-20 we predicted 12 points out of 20 and they ended up with 15.  That stretch of games featured some of the best hockey this team has played this season and it showed in the points total.  Our second projection (#21-30) was 14 points out of 20 and they fell one short, ending up with 13.  For games #31-40 we projected 14 out of 20 points and we were spot on, as they ended up with 14 points.

The last 10 games #41-50

Okay, we were overly optimistic, predicting 15 of a possible 20 points.  They fell two points short, ending up with 13 points with a record of 6-3-1.  The 13 points were the fewest they have gotten in any of their ten game sequences matching their point total in games 21-30.

The great news about this Rangers team is the most losses they have had in any ten game sequence is three and they have maintained a solid winning record all season long.  There have been no slumps in any of the sequences.

This sequence was a bit of a surprise with the Rangers dropping a game to Columbus while they lost to two tough competitors in Minnesota and Carolina.  The best win of the ten games was their 5-2 win over Florida on February 1. The Rangers were the only team to beat the Panthers in Florida since before Christmas until Nashville won on Tuesday night.

The one other loss was the shootout loss to the Red Wings, another game we expected them to win.

The Rangers had a 1-2 record on the road and won six of their seven home games.

In hindsight, the fact that the Blueshirts were able to come away with 13 points in this sequence is pretty remarkable considering that they had a two week break in between games.

How our readers did

We invited our readers to weigh in and it turns out that many of them were as optimistic as we were. NYRangersFan94 was probably not quite serious when he predicted 20 points.  DaRev projected a 7-1-2 record for 16 points.   Dave Sisler was a little more practical predicting 15 points as we did.

Ian M saw the team possibly losing to the top four teams (Carolina, Minnesota, Florida and Boston) but beating all of the others.  He did say that a win versus Minnesota was possible. His final call was a 7-2-1 record with the OT loss to one of the top four.

14 points was a popular projection with Jaymo predicting losses to Boston, Minnesota and L..A.  One out of three isn’t bad.   George217 called for a 7-3-0 record and proclaimed a fear of Pittsburgh.

RGSRBGolfing was also on the 14 point bandwagon.  He predicted the loss to Minnesota, but like most of us, our expectations against the weaker teams were too high.

The great news is no one predicted fewer than the 13 points they ended up with.  And who were winners of the Nostradamus Award for most accurate prediction?

Dominick Rossi predicted a 6-3-1 record, exactly what they ended up.  Here’s his call: “They’ll have one clunker loss against a team they should beat, beat one of the elite teams, and have an SO loss against another of the winning teams.”  I’d say that he was almost 100% on the mark.

Jackie Lee also predicted the 13 point total though he called for a 5-2-3 record with the regulation losses coming to Carolina and Boston  and the OT losses to L.A., Minnesota and Florida.

Keep those predictions coming!

The next 10 games #51-60

The next 10 games are another fascinating mix. They are playing the 10 games in 20 days so it will be a busy stretch.  They are playing five at home and five on the road.  The stretch will include the last long road trip of the season, a four game swing to Winnipeg, Minnesota, St. Louis and Dallas.

Believe it or not, after March 12 (game #9 in this stretch) they do not play another game outside of the Eastern Time Zone. That’s the final 23 games of the season.

Five of the 10 games are against team currently in a playoff position with only two from the East.  There’s only one set of back-to-backs so the team will be relatively well rested in between games. One question in the minds of all Ranger fans is how many starts Igor Shesterkin will get.

The best games of the sequence are the first two as the Rangers host the Washington Capitals and visit the Pittsburgh Penguins.  While these are not “must win” games, they are important.  The Rangers are one point behind the Pens and four points ahead of the Caps, though the Rangers have two games in hand on both of them.

All eyes will be on J.T. Miller when Vancouver comes to the Garden for the second of a back-to-back set of games.  The once and maybe future Ranger will be making his only trip to NYC.

Speaking of former Rangers, red hot Pavel Buchnevich comes to town in the next game, a tough one for the Rangers against an improving Blue team who they play twice in the 10 games.

The Rangers host the Devils, a game that should be easy, but never is, before embarking on that four game road trip. Minnesota and St. Louis are both playing excellent hockey and Winnipeg and Dallas are desperate for a playoff spot so those will be tough road games.

The Rangers wrap up the ten games with a visit from the Anaheim Ducks who have faded after a hot start.

Okay, now that we know who they will be playing, it’s time to make some projections.

Our prediction

Okay, we’ve been a little cocky in our predictions and we’ve been blessed by the lack of a long slump of any kind.  These ten games will be greatly affected by the first two games and also by the long road trip.  So far, the Rangers have had a fantastic road record, the question is whether they can keep it up.

Our projection is that the Rangers will come away from the next 10 games with 13 points, two fewer than we projected for the last ten games.  The record should be 6-3-1 with the losses coming on the road to Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Minnesota.

To maintain this pace is fairly daunting, but if they can it may have important consequences for the possibility of a big deal at the trade deadline on March 21.  A really good record and it may result in Chris Drury going all in for a top player.  A bit of a slump and he may decide to hold off and let his homegrown assets get one more year of experience.

One hopeful note is the team should be getting Kaapo Kakko back from his injury by sometime late next week.

What they need to make the playoffs

The Rangers are on a pace to finish with 113 points.  That would equal the franchise record of 113 points set by the 2014-15 team.  It’s been an unexpectedly good season so far and the team shows no sign of slowing down.

The number of points needed to make the playoffs historically has been 97, the magic number of points needed to make the playoffs since 1995 when the NHL went to an 82-game season.

To get to 97 points, the Rangers need 28 points in the next 32 games.  That’s a 14-18-0 record and there is no way that this team will be below .500 the rest of the season.  The Athletic (subscription required) give the Rangers a 100% shot at making the playoffs based on their remaining schedule and strength of opponents.  That’s an improvement from the 83% chance they had after 20 games , the 90% after 30 games and the 97% after 40 games.  They give the Rangers an 8% shot at winning the Division, down from 12% ten games ago.

With the playoffs a given, the focus has to be on finishing first or second in the Metropolitan Division in order to gain home ice advantage for at least one playoff series.

Are 13 points too many?  Too few?  Feel free to make your own projections below.  Here is the schedule:

#51 Thursday, February 24 – Washington
#52 Saturday, February 26 – At Pittsburgh
#53 Sunday, February 27 – Vancouver
#54 Wednesday, March 2 – St. Louis
#55 Friday, March 4 – New Jersey
#56 Sunday, March 6 – At Winnipeg
#57 Tuesday, March 8 – At Minnesota
#58  Thursday, March 10 – At St. Louis
#59  Saturday, March 12  – At Dallas
#60 Tuesday, March 15 – Anaheim

More. Injuries could be a good thing. light