With the New York Rangers being tied for first place in the Metropolitan Division, many have been saying that the team should want second place in order to have easier competition. When looking at the standings, playing Pittsburgh or Washington instead of Tampa Bay or Boston might be a better matchup for the Rangers. So, some people out there want the Rangers to come in second place behind the Carolina Hurricanes.
Still, even with this talk, the Rangers should want first place in the Metropolitan Division. There are perks that come with first place, and the Blueshirts should want them.
First, home ice will be factor. The number one seed, if they do get past their first round opponent, will have home ice for an extra round. Look at New York’s position: assuming no upsets happen, the second round matchup would be the Rangers vs Hurricanes, and New York would absolutely love home ice in this matchup. The Hurricanes are a better team at home, posting a record of 27-8-4 so far. Even though the Rangers’ one win vs Carolina has been at PNC Arena, nobody would mind some home ice.
Additionally, if the Rangers do match up against Boston or Tampa Bay, fans might be scared. And, that’s fair. Both teams play a style that has given New York trouble, even though the Blueshirts are 5-0-0 with three regulation wins this season.
To this, if New York does win the Metropolitan Division, they, not the wildcard opponent, would have home ice, which is a factor. Additionally, the Rangers statistically are one of the top teams in the NHL. They have one of the top goal scorers in the league, the leading candidate for the Vezina Trophy, top ten special teams and have been one of the top teams in 5v5 since the NHL Trade Deadline. The Rangers are going to be a tough out in the playoffs no matter who they play.
As the regular season winds down, the Rangers’ playoff opponent remains uncertain. While it looked like Pittsburgh for a portion of the season, this might change. Andrew Copp mentioned it on Tuesday: the Rangers want first place. The way they are playing, this is attainable. For now, one thing is on the Rangers’ minds: Win the Metro.