Another big night for the playoff picture

Apr 9, 2022; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers salute the crowd after the game against Ottawa Senators at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Tom Horak-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 9, 2022; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers salute the crowd after the game against Ottawa Senators at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Tom Horak-USA TODAY Sports /
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Tonight, the New York Rangers take on the New York Islanders in a game that if they win, will mean that they will clinch a finish no lower than second place. Their magic number to clinch is down to one so a win or even an overtime loss and the Rangers will guarantee home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

That’s not to say that the Rangers are out of the running for first place in the Metropolitan Division.   They are in a dead heat with the Hurricanes, tied for first, though the Hurricanes own the regulation or overtime win (ROW) tiebreaker.  The Rangers have 46 such wins while Carolina has won 48 games that way.

Here are the standings:

Metropolitan Division

  1. Carolina:  106 points,  48 ROW,  5 games left
  2. Rangers:   106 points, 46 ROW, 5 games left
  3. Pittsburgh:  97 points, 40 ROW,  5 games left
  4. Washington:  97 points, 38 ROW, 5 games left

Atlantic Division

  1. Florida:   116 points, 52 ROW,  6 games left
  2. Toronto:  108 points,  49 ROW,  5 games left
  3. Tampa:   100 points,  44 ROW,  6 games left
  4. Boston:  99 points,  45 ROW,  6 games left

It’s a good night for scoreboard watching as the Hurricanes host the Winnipeg Jets and the Bruins visit the Penguins.

Meanwhile, Washington  lost in overtime to Vegas last night and are now tied with the Penguins with 97 points. Pittsburgh owns the ROW tiebreaker so Washington would have to finish ahead of them to play the second place team in the Met Division

The big battle in the East is between Washington and Boston as the better of the two teams ends up avoiding the Florida Panthers in the first round.   Florida overtook Colorado in the battle for the President’s Trophy.

Another game of note is between Toronto and Tampa.  A Toronto win and they will clinch second place in the Atlantic Division.  Tampa is only one point ahead of Boston for third place in the Atlantic.

The only sure thing in the East is that Florida and Toronto will finish one-two in the Atlantic Division.

Who the Rangers could play

If the Rangers finish first:

  • Boston:  If the standings remain the same and the Rangers finish in the top slot, they will play the Bruins.
  • Tampa:  If Boston can overtake Tampa for third place in the Atlantic Division, the Rangers could play Tampa as long as the Lightning finish ahead of Washington or Pittsburgh in the first wild card spot.
  • Washington:  They play the Capitals if Washington can overtake Boston or Tampa for the top wild card spot.
  • Pittsburgh:  They play the Penguins if Pittsburgh finishes in the first wild card spot, ahead of Boston or Tampa.

If the Rangers finish second:

  • Pittsburgh:  They play the Penguins if Pittsburgh holds onto third place ahead of the Capitals.
  • Washington:  They play the Capitals if Washington can overtake Pittsburgh for third place in the Metropolitan Division.

Who they play

Here are the games remaining for all of the East contenders:

Metropolitan Division:

Rangers (5):  @Islanders, @ Boston, Carolina, Montreal, Washington
Hurricanes (5):  Winnipeg, @ New Jersey, @ Islanders, @ Rangers, New Jersey
Pittsburgh (5):  Boston, @ Detroit, @ Philadelphia, Edmonton, Columbus
Washington (5):  @ Arizona, Toronto, Islanders, @ Islanders, @ Rangers
Tampa (6):  Toronto, Nashville, @ Florida, Columbus, @ Columbus, @ Islanders
Boston (6):  @ Pittsburgh, Rangers, @ Montreal, Florida, Buffalo, @ Toronto

Confused?  We are.  We won’t know who the Rangers will play for a while as it looks like the Rangers-Hurricanes fight will go down to the last couple games of the season.   Meanwhile, the wild card teams are still up in the air with four teams within four points of each other.

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