Predicting the final 12 games of the season

TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 31: Mika Zibanejad #93 of the New York Rangers is congratulated after his game-winning shootout goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Amalie Arena on December 31, 2021 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 31: Mika Zibanejad #93 of the New York Rangers is congratulated after his game-winning shootout goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Amalie Arena on December 31, 2021 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images) /

All season long we have been breaking down the New York Rangers’ schedule into 10 game segments and making projections on how the Blueshirts will do.  Believe it or not, we are at the last sequence with only 12 games left before the playoffs begin.  So, we will deviate from format and predict how the team will do over the final 12 games and what their record will be when the season concludes.

How we’ve done

We’ve had a pretty good record this season, with the team winning and losing at a rate close to what we thought they would.  Here’s what we did over the first 60 games.

#1-10:  We didn’t project the first 10 games and the Rangers went 6-2-2 for 14 out of 20 points.  We’ll be honest and say it’s doubtful we would have projected that many.

#11-20:  We predicted 12 points out of 20 and they ended up with 15.  We still didn’t believe that this team was that good.   Their record was 7-2-1.

#21-30:  Our second projection was 14 points out of 20 and they fell one short, ending up with 13 with a 6-3-1 record.

#31-40:  We projected 14 out of 20 points and we were spot on, as they ended up with 14 points and a record of 7-3-0.

#41-50:  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.

#51-60:  Sensing the team would comeback to earth, we predicted 13 points out of 20 and they finished up with 12 points and a 6-4-0 record.

The last 10 games

We must be getting pretty good at reading this team as our projection was 13 points out of 20 and that’s exactly what they ended up with.  They finished with a 6-3-1 record.  This sequence was one of the strangest 10 game segments and while our point total was dead on, they didn’t get there the way we thought they would.

We predicted wins against the Islanders (twice), Devils, Buffalo and Detroit.  We predicted a split against the Penguins and losses to Carolina and Tampa.  We thought one of the losses to Pittsburgh, Carolina and Tampa games would be in overtime accounting for the extra point.

Boy, were we wrong.  The Rangers beat the teams we thought they would lose to and lost the games we thought they would win.   The three losses came at the hands of the Islanders and Devils.  Meanwhile, they swept Pittsburgh, Tampa and Carolina.  We were right that they would beat Buffalo and Detroit, but who knew it would take overtime to do it?

So, give us a pat on the back for predicting the point total and a smackdown for getting the games pretty wrong.   Our scorecard for the season is mixed.  We were right twice, they exceeded the projection once, and fell short three times.

How our readers did

We invited our readers to weigh in and we had a pretty big spread when it came to predictions.  It’s fun to see what Ranger fans believe and it can be pretty wide-ranging.  One caveat, the predictions came before most of the deadline moves made by Chris Drury.   No one was overly optimistic with a lot of readers predicting 14 points, just off by one.  I guess we are figuring this team out, or are we?

We’ll start with the optimists:

Al wrote his prediction after the first loss to the Isles, but still came in with 14 points: “Since 8-2 is out of the question with this being written after the Isles loss I’ll go with 14 pts (7-3). With games Saturday and Sunday 8pm and 6pm they need to go all out vs Tampa Saturday with a quick turnaround on Sunday being very difficult. So I’ll give them a loss to Carolina, although I don’t want to see them man handled again, we need to eventually beat this team. And one more loss to Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh. Cannot lose to the Islanders again at home!”

RGSRBGolfing projected 14 points and was like us in predicting losses to Tampa, Carolina and Pittsburgh:  “Hmmmm…. I’m going to be on the optimistic side again and say 6-2-2.  Vatrano gives them a boost.”

Ray Janes was openly positive with 14 points:  “I’ll take an optimistic stab at it. 7-3: losses at TB, Carolina, and @Pitt. I also think they might get a couple of OT/SO wins in there as well.”

Richard Prescott projected 14 points and called out our prediction of two wins over the Isles.  He was right. “I would say that calling the two games against the Islanders locks is a bit optimistic. They are playing better, which is why the rescheduled game hurts them, but also even if they weren’t, they always get up for the Rangers. Without much to play for, this is what they can play for. That being said, this team seems to find a way to give games away to the Penguins. At some point they need to step up and truck them out of the arena. I am hoping that they get 14 points out of this 10 game stretch but would like to see them get the 2 games vs. Pittsburgh.”

NYRangersFan94 was pretty positive coming in with 14 points:  “I think they will go 7-3. They split vs Carolina/Tampa, Lose to Pittsburgh (Second Game) and they lose a game they should win.”

George217 has always been an optimistic and remained one and added a scoring prediction (that didn’t come true):  “Positive thinking, I’m staying with my 7-3-0 prediction an I’ll probably be wrong. Positive thinking, the teams they won’t beat Canes, Lightning, split with the Pens. I’ll settle for a 10 game win streak. Ok Ok I’m aloud too dream. POSITIVE THINKING.  Mika will score a SHORTIE.”

These readers got it right:

The Snowman didn’t like our Islanders prediction either, but he did hit the number of points dead on:  “Islanders are no gimmies Steve. Tonight is the Islander’s playoff game because it’s quite possible that Lou L. will be open for business on Monday…6-3-1…Just keep holding serve at home..”

Brendan Guernsey agreed with our projection:  “I think 13 pts is pretty spot on. The Rangers need to definitely win the gimmie games. I’d like to see them steal some points from the top teams during this stretch.”

The pessimists (realists?):

Ian M  came in just one point off, projecting 12 points, but like most readers, completely misread the games against Tampa, Carolina and Pittsburgh (as we did).  He did have a prediction for the newest Ranger that was spot on:    “I’m going with 5-3-2 with losses coming in Tampa, Carolina and Pittsburgh, and extra time losses against the Islanders and Penguins at home. Oh and for good measure I’ll add that Vatrano will score a couple of goals over that span.”

Sid V. was one under the final total, but probably had the most cogent analysis of this team:  “12 points would be nice. I still can’t figure this team out . They can lose and win with anybody.”

Dave Sisler gave some of us headaches with his analysis on how he came up with a total of 12 points: “12…in honor of my college mathematics professor who once argued a duodecimal system (base 12) would be easier given how many numbers 12 can be divided as compared to 10 (even gave us some exercises with A for 10 and B for 11)”

Thomas Patch thought the total would be 12 and predicting the win in Tampa:  “Predict 12 points and 6-4 record w/ losses Islanders, Hurricanes, @ Pens, Islanders; surprise win in Tampa. Fall back could be 2 OT losses w/ Flyers, Islanders.”

Dominick Rossi projected only 11 points, but had a decent rationale for coming up with that total:  “11pts 5-4-1, AG will get more starts in the next 10 to keep Igor rested and it’ll take the deadline acquisition (hopefully acquisitions) time to gel.”

Eugene Plaksienko predicted 11 points, but didn’t anticipate the wins over the better teams:  “5-4-1. 4 losses with better teams, one loss OT from Isles, rest are wins”

Jaymo came up with 11 points, but was a little off in his analysis of where the points would come from:  “This is a tough set but here goes. I think they struggle before and right after the deadline due to possible disruptions and then take off. So, I think they get one point out of next three games, then get four in the next three, to finish with 6 in the last four. So 11 points.”

Joe Johns didn’t make a points prediction, but predicted how the team will play:  “Not sure what the record will be, but continuing to win with injuries has allowed time for Kakko and Rooney to fully recover. A very good thing! Hopefully we can get 4 points in next 4 and then maybe have both players back plus any acquisitions from the deadline going forward. Then with Chytil playing a more physical brand of hockey of late, this team can become very “hard to play against”.

Jazz999 didn’t make a points projection, but did have one prediction.  Our only advice is it might be kind of a reach.  Still 12 games to go!:  “My only prediction is this : Jonny B will score a hat trick by the end of the year.”

It’s great to hear from all of our readers.  Keep those predictions coming!

The next 12 games #71-82

The next games are chock full of possibilities for the Rangers.  Their schedule is incredibly favorable and if they win the games that they should, they could end the season in second place in the Metropolitan Division.

Their fate is in their hands. Seven of their last 12 games are against Metropolitan Division foes.  They have one game against a Central Division foe (Winnipeg) and four games against the Atlantic Division, a division that they have absolutely dominated.

Not only that, but eight of the 12 games are at home. Two of the road games are against the Devils and Islanders so they will have fans at 10 of the last 12 games.

They do have two sets of back-to-back games with the tougher team (Carolina) in the first games.  It’s rare, but the Rangers also have two days off between games four times in April.  That will give them some valuable practice time.

Now, here is where it gets interesting.  Only five of the games are against playoff teams and normally, that’s a good thing.  Not if you look at how the Rangers have been playing lately.  It’s going to be a challenge for Gerard Gallant to get this team on a roll heading into the playoffs with so many “soft” games on the schedule.

Ironically, three of the first four games will be the most challenging.  They take on the Devils in New Jersey, an opponent that always gives them trouble.  Then comes the marquee game of the segment as they host the Penguins.  After a “respite” against the Senators, the Carolina Hurricanes come to New York for a game that will tell us a lot about whether this team is playoff-ready.

The next four games are against non-playoff teams (look out!) with games against the Flyers, Red Wings, Jets and Islanders.

We suppose it is a good thing that they finish the season with games versus Boston, Carolina, Montreal and Washington.  With little at stake in the playoff race, you can be sure that teams will be tuning up for the start of the postseason.

There are a lot of questions that will affect how the Rangers play down the stretch.  Gallant will definitely want to get Kaapo Kakko and Kevin Rooney a lot of ice time so that they can get back to full speed after missing a lengthy stretch of the season.  Another question is how he will deploy his goaltenders.  How many starts will Igor Shesterkin get in the final 12 games?

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

Our prediction

The is the toughest stretch to predict.  However, we will be optimistic and say that out of the final 24 points, they will get 17 points.

How will they get there?  They should win against the Devils, Ottawa, Philadelphia, Detroit, Winnipeg and Montreal. They will split against the Hurricanes and come away from the games with Pittsburgh, Boston and Washington with one point. They will go 7-2-3 and that will give them a final record of 51-22-9

Yes, we know that means only two regulation losses the rest of the season…but it’s an achievable target with the team actually winning seven of the last 12.

What they need for the playoffs

The Rangers magic number to clinch a playoff spot is seven points.  Any combination of seven points gained by the Blueshirts or lost by the Islanders and they are in.  So, they are in.

Their magic number to clinch at least third place is 16.  Any combination of 16 points gained by New York or lost by Washington and the Rangers finish no worse than third place.

The magic number to clinch second place is 22 (if they hold the ROW tiebreaker).

Are 17 points too many?  Too few?  Feel free to make your own projections below.  Here is the schedule:

#71 Tuesday, April 5 – At New Jersey
#72 Thursday, April 7 – Pittsburgh
#73 Saturday, April 9 – Ottawa
#74 Tuesday, April 12 – Carolina
#75 Wednesday, April 13  – At Philadelphia
#76 Saturday, April 16 – Detroit
#77 Tuesday, April 19 – Winnipeg
#78  Thursday, April 21 – At Islanders
#79  Saturday, April 23 – At Boston
#80 Tuesday, April 26 – Carolina
#81 Wednesday, April 27 – Montreal
#82 Friday, April 29 – Washington

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